Twenty-seven political leaders from around the world signed a “Declaration of Support for the Meetings and Events Industry” at the Politicians Forum during IMEX Frankfurt in Frankfurt, Germany, May 20–22, recognizing the importance of meetings to the world’s economies. The Politicians Forum was among the highlights of IMEX Frankfurt, which saw hosted-buyer appointments jump 33 percent over the previous year.

The Declaration of Support document was circulated at the Politicians Forum, held May 21, where 36 political leaders from 28 countries were in attendance, including ministers of tourism from Egypt, Mexico, and South Africa. It was the first time in the 11-year history of the IMEX Politicians Forum that three ministers of tourism attended. Such a high level of political engagement was a significant breakthrough, said IMEX Chairman Ray Bloom. He believes it marks a shift in awareness of meetings, which he attributes to the industry’s ongoing advocacy efforts. “Thanks to concerted communications and campaigning efforts by many industry associations, together with the commissioning of a growing number of national economic impact studies, there is now a far better understanding of the true value of the meetings industry among policymakers. The Politicians Forum acts as an opportunity for all of us to stop and take stock of progress but also to ensure we keep working together to push for more.”

The Politicians Forum is designed to give global events industry leaders a chance to meet with government ministers, policymakers, and other political representatives. The politicians toured the IMEX trade show floor, witnessing the size and scope of the international meetings market. There were 3,900 hosted buyers from 75 countries at the show as well as approximately 3,500 exhibitors in attendance. 

The program included a presentation by Singapore Tourism Board CEO Lionel Yeon on his country’s success in the global meetings and events marketand concluded with all of the politicians being invited to sign the new Declaration of Support. Devised with the help of the Joint Meetings Industry Council, in consultation with other industry bodies, the declaration is intended as a public roll-call of politicians who understand the economic importance of the meetings and events industry to their communities. At press time, 27 politicians had signed the declaration, including representatives from France, Belgium, Canada, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Panama, South Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

Destinations are encouraged to use the declaration as a way to open up dialogue with local politicians and solicit local support for the meetings and events industry. IMEX and its partners are aiming to secure 100 signatures on the declaration by the end of 2013.  The document is also being used by JMIC as part its new “Speak Up” advocacy campaign.

“It’s been fascinating to put our local efforts into this global context, and I now see where we have opportunities for more progress; that is in connecting more interests together so that we are united in our messages and our actions,” said Wendy Simon, City Councilor for the City of Liverpool, England.  “The emphasis on working collectively to achieve recognition has inspired me to go home and really work to break down remaining barriers. And we’ll definitely be highlighting our part in the Declaration of Support. I think it’s important that Liverpool knows it had a voice here today.”

Gala Awards

IMEX handed out awards at its annual gala dinner, several of them for environmental sustainability.

The German Convention Bureau won the IMEX/GMIC (Green Meeting Industry Council) Green Exhibitor Award.

NH Hoteles, a hotel chain based in Madrid, won the IMEX/GMIC Green Supplier Award.

The Danish Sustainable Events Initiative, Copenhagen, won the IMEX/GMIC Green Meeting Award in the large meeting category for the Danish European Union Presidency event. Three Squares Inc., Santa Monica, Calif., won the award in the small- to medium-sized meeting category for its Women in Green Forum.