Being primarily a MICE agency that brings Russian and American delegations to the Baltic countries, we understand what a breakthrough the Baltic countries have made in the past 5 years.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are great travel destinations, offering their visitors positive surprises and a plethora of emotions in terms of diverse cultures between regions and traditions, well preserved cultural treasures, and unspoilt nature.
It is an unspoken truth that the three countries in the Baltic region are connected not only culturally but also as a result of strong intergovernmental relations which promotes their event industries. The aim of the international Baltic Connection is to unite not only the three states generally but also event industry professionals about tourism, culture and event opportunities in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, by acquainting them with the offers and services of the event industries in the region, as well as create the opportunity for foreign event professionals to meet with potential partners in the Baltics and establish new contacts in Europe at large. The Baltic States have a vibrant and rich history, with each region exuding a distinct cultural identity as they attract thousands of visitors.
According to data retrieved from meetings.ee, 4000-5000 conference events took place in Estonia every year (5,221 in 2015). Of all the conference events held in Estonia, 79% took place in Tallinn, 14% in Tartu and 7% elsewhere in Estonia. International events accounted for 24% (1,265 events) of all Estonian conference events; 90% of those events took place in Tallinn (1,133 events). Compared to 2014, the number of accommodated foreign conference tourists increased by 33% in 2015.
Why? Because of more than 50 great capital hotels, and many historical and modern unique venues. Direct Tallinn flights are also increasing since they launched new airflight company NORDICA (associated with polish LOT)
Vilnius Convention Bureau is the only institution gathering statistics about meetings industry in Vilnius. According to last year’s statistics Riga had 419 international meetings in 2015. It attracted 68088 delegates in total that comparing to the 2012 the increase is more than 45%. Convene plays a significant role in the development of the meetings industry not only in Vilnius, but in a whole region. The event attracts meeting planners from mostly European countries and exhibitors that presenting their services are only from Baltic sea region countries (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Poland, Russia).
Riga can also host international trade fairs with ease. More than 50 different business exhibitions take place in the Latvian capital every year, gathering around 7,000 exhibitors and close to a million attendants. In terms of MICE and event possibilities in Riga, the capital of Latvia and also the biggest city of the Baltic States, there is a lot to offer. You can go there for both large scale events and congresses as well as for incentive trips or product launches. The city has a large number of event locations, hotels and restaurants, suitable for all kinds of budgets.
It is indeed inappropriate to talk about the event industry in the Baltic States without first visiting the culture of the people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which has shaped the industry itself.
I understand that there is an opinion about the varying degree of development of the event industry in different regions of Europe. But I do not agree with it. You can not compare the event industry in Germany and Russia, France and Estonia. You can compare the number of venues, hotels, event companies and various services for organizing events. But each individual country has its own mentality, its language, its culture and its color when organizing events. It would be right to compare the achievements of the event companies and the feedback of their clients. The usefulness of events that are organized in a particular country. And then in these terms the Baltic countries have something to boast about. The number of large international clients in the Baltic countries has increased by 2% over the past year. Event agencies from Latvia and Estonia participate in the world’s largest event awards, like EuBea and Eventex. The number of participants from the Baltic countries at events such as IMEX or IBM has increased by 4%. What does this mean? It means that in the Baltic countries there are organizers of events and conditions for hosting events that can compete with the strongest event markets.
The strong unity in this region is already evident with the way their major events are named, they are often titled using the word “festival”. Below are a few of the events that bring unity, culture and tourism to the Baltic region yearly.
– Homo Novus – International Festival of Contemporary Theatre (Riga)
– Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (Tallinn)
– Sirenos – The International Vilnius Theatre Festival (Vilnius)
– 2ANNAS – Riga International Short Film Festival (Riga)
– VIII Design Night Festival (Tallinn)
– Festival of Contemporary Art – ART IST KUKU NU UT (Tartu)
– Survival Kit 5 – International Contemporary Arts Festival (Riga)
– Vilnius Jazz Festival (Vilnius)
– Golden Mask Theatre festival (Tallinn)
– Staro Riga Light Festival (Riga)
The above events are just a few of the events and festivals that draw attention, tourism, cultural recognition, promotion and amalgamation into the Baltic region from all of Europe.
The Baltic event industry is pointing towards a higher level put in place to further unify the three countries through events. These event organisers don’t want to stay confined within their national walls; they want to scale borders as they build bridges with event stakeholders in the three states and throughout Europe in many different ways. This seems to be the recipe to bolster the current growing cultural economics in the region. Thinking outside of national borders means the Baltic event industry is more responsive to the opportunities that the event industry has to offer. Taking this point of view, the region offers an abundance of business opportunities as further unification creates more cultural mix and more need for the creation of event categories whether it is in tech, music, arts, film, fashion or general events. Picture what happens when you put together ideas coming from such different cultures from the Baltic region. From this viewpoint, working together as a region in unison denotes an exchange of event ideas that enriches creativity and unity.
We were lucky to come up with idea of the Baltic For Events Forum. It is the first forum that unites under one roof event professionals from the Baltic States as well as from Northen and Western Europe.
Forum participants are leading experts and event customers, heads of the largest event agencies of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, as well as other European countries and Russia.
We came up with the idea of the Baltic For Events Forum for 2 reasons.
First of all there are a lot of event professionals who are interested in the Baltic States as a place to organize their events and search for partners and suppliers in the Baltic countries. These countries are creative with a strong digital impact, a very attractive general cost level and seem to be exotic destinations with all the charm of the North.
But still the thing is, if they decide to organize their events in the Baltic States, they search for one representative and one agency that can offer services for the whole region. That’s why its time to find partners in neighboring countries.
We have tried to create a special program to show the industry from different aspects. Our first day is dedicated to the agencies – their work, their creativity, their method of talking to clients. It provides a vast understanding of what’s going on not only in the Baltic States but in the whole industry. We have up to 40 speakers from all over Europe and Russia, including Jack Morton, Filmmaster, Google, Tallink and ACT Lighting Design. That makes BFEF really unique.
The second day is dedicated to clients. The client’s point of view and clients in general will actually lead the development of the industry more than anything else. That’s why we have so many clients who will share their emotions and thoughts about actual things in the industry.
We have also made a few very important and relevant Q&A sessions for such related fields as events & PR, events & DMC, event agencies & clients.
Frankly, for the event industry in the Baltic region, there is a significant improvement in popularity, ideas, style, creativity and most especially European recognition and this is not unconnected to the unity and cultural amalgamation of the Baltic event industry. This industry is on a fast track to the top of event creation in Europe because organisers in this region know that Europe, for the event industry, is a huge opportunity not only to grow but also provides the chance to underline the value of the accomplishments, growth and regional differences.
Mary Kirillova, member of the board of Directors of Baltiski Aljans OU since 2009. Has organized dozens of events in Russia, Europe and the Baltic States for Russian and European clients, such as: Gazprom, Lukoil, Govenrment of St.Petersburg, Russian Federal Notary Chamber, St. Petersburg State University, PracticePanther Law, Sberbank, Deloitte, Audi motors etc.
In 2015 she co-founded and served as editor-in-chief for an international event magazine.
In 2016, she launched the first job site for event organizers: Eventcv.com. A global job search for event-agencies and customers around the world. A unique and one of a kind platform. A European database of CV’s of employees of the live communication industry.
In the same year she launched the first Baltic For Events Forum (balticforevents.com) organized for event agencies and customers in the Baltic States.