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Nicola Casagli, Professor of Applied Geology at the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Florence (World Landslide Forum 2023 congress), Marcello Mele, Director of the “E. Avanzi” Agro-environmental Research Centre – University of Pisa (EAAP Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science 2022), Fiorenzo Bortolato, EFPA general secretary – European Financial Planning Association, Charlie MacGregor, CEO and founder of The Student Hotel, Elisabetta Fabri, president and CEO of Starhotels, Diego Petrini, general manager of Florence Marathon, Giacomo Lucibello president of Mercafir: these are some of the “Ambassadors” have been awarded on October 15, at 6pm in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio.

This is the fourth edition of the Florence Ambassador Awards promoted by the tourism, fairs and congresses department, led by Cecilia Del Re in collaboration with the Florence Convention Bureau and Firenze Fiera Congress and Exhibition Centre. The Florence Ambassador Award is an official recognition of the city dedicated to people in the academic and professional world who are committed to working towards the acquisition of congresses and events with important benefits for Florence’s economy.

The numbers summarize the extent of the impact of the sector on the city. According to 2018 data from OICE (the Italian Observatory of Congresses and Events), 14,704 events were held for a total of 21,188 days in the city of Florence. Florence attracts 20% more delegates than other European destinations. 986,765 participants were recorded, which were reflected in 1,478,741 overnight stays. The most interesting data are those concerning the origin of the participants, the type of event, and customers who have chosen to hold events in Florence.

The international events registered a 4.6% increase compared to 2017 and a 5.3% increase in terms of the number of participants, thus triggering a decidedly positive trend. Participants in national events are also growing, registering an 8.6% increase compared to last year. Looking more closely at the type of customer, the record figure is undoubtedly represented by the growth of participants in events promoted by companies which registered a 17.1% increase compared to 2017. A good performance was also achieved by the events promoted by global associations, which, in contrast to the national figure that shows a negative trend for associations, recorded an increase of 7.5% in Florence for this type compared to 2017.

“We are proud to have supported the Ambassadors of the City Award ceremony by the Municipality of Florence this year,” adds Carlotta Ferrari, Director of Destination Florence Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This initiative originates from the Florence Academic & Leader Program (FALP), the so-called ambassador programme, present in all European and international cities. It was carried out for many years by the Florence Convention Bureau together with its main partner, Firenze Fiera. Our goal, thanks to the very close collaboration with the University of Florence, with hospitals and also with the corporate world, is precisely to enhance and increase the number of international congresses and events in the city. Our governance model allows us to be true connectors between institutions, professionals, local operators and our ambassadors: we put international candidates and interventions in place every day to raise the quality of tourism and increase the international prestige of our city”.

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“To see it, just move around the city every day and the numbers confirm it, Florence is becoming more and more the European capital of congresses and quality fairs. Thanks are also due to the infrastructures that are gradually being improved and to international investments that contribute a cosmopolitan air to the city. In this context, works will transform the Palaffari by the end of 2020 into the most technological and modern congress centre available. The new Bellavista pavilion that will be built at the Fortress will be the completion of a path that already sees Firenze Fiera as the protagonist with over half a million attending fairs and congresses in 2019,” explains Leonardo Bassilichi, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Florence and Firenze Fiera.