Many destinations have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How is Barcelona currently dealing with this crisis?
For two years there has been very little activity due to the pandemic and many companies have been affected, although now it seems the worst is over. We have a fairly tight calendar of congresses and events for 2022, which is very positive considering the circumstances. Even small-format scheduled congresses are warning that they could receive more attendees than expected. I think 2022 is going to be a good year, I want to be optimistic.
How do you think COVID will change our industry, and what measures can be taken, in your opinion?
The pandemic has already changed our industry for some years to come, that is a reality.
Many congresses need now to be held in new formats to which associations must adapt, and technology has become a key element for many of them. Associations, convention centers and meeting planners have faced these challenges together and they have successfully succeeded in most cases. A closer relationship within the different parties involved is crucial and the role of convention bureaux as connectors and facilitators is more relevant than ever.
However, some congresses will continue to be held in hybrid format, at least until the gradual lifting of travel restrictions allows travel and gives confidence to the associations.
Did you know, that…?
- Barcelona is a leading 5G hub for Southern Europe and has one of Europe’s most active startup ecosystems, being the fifth biggest startup hub in Europe. https://www.barcelonaconventionbureau.com/en/info/barcelona-technology-and-science--/69.html
- Barcelona became the first city in the world to gain the “Biosphere World Class Destination” certification in 2011. Since then, hundreds of enterprises have joined in the commitment to sustainability and Barcelona has renewed its Biosphere Certification until 2024. Biosphere Certification guarantees compliance with the quality standards of the tourism offer in order to ensure they bring significant benefits to society. At the same time, it recognises the city’s good practices in responsible and sustainable tourism. https://professional.barcelonaturisme.com/en/blog/category/barcelona-sustainable-tourism
- Check Barcelona is a new app developed during the pandemic by the Barcelona Tourism Board with the support of the Barcelona City Council and the technology provider EureCat, with the aim of communicating real-time information on health and mobility recommendations to visitors, as well as the best way to make visits safely avoiding crowds and queues. https://checkbarcelona.com/
Where to meet?
There are three main convention centers in Barcelona: CCIB-Barcelona International Convention Center (total floor space: 11,300 sq m / 121,632.2 sq ft); Fira Gran Via (total floor space: 240,000 sq m / 2,583.338 sq ft); and PCC-Palau de Congressos de Catalunya (exhibition space: 2,000 sq m / 21,527.82 sq ft), which is closed at the moment. They all are able to host any kind of event.
Barcelona also has a variety of unique venues for smaller meetings and social events. They range from sites steeped in history with character such as the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Casa Batlló, Casa Llotja de Mar or Palau de la Música Catalana, to modern facilities like the CCCB - Centre de Cultura Contemporània, Fàbrica Moritz or Cúpula Events. Additionally, near Barcelona we have incredible options such as Codorníu Cellars and Mas de Sant Lleí, just to mention a couple.
Where to stay?
There is a wide range of hotels in the city of Barcelona and province. From large (national and international) chains with an extensive range of perfectly-equipped rooms for holding meetings, to charming boutique hotels with highly-personalized services. They all have their own distinctive style. More than 500 hotels, of which 39 are 5*/5*GL hotels, 214 are 4*/4*S hotels and 144 are 3* hotels, with over 45,275 rooms and 90,400 beds in total.
To name a few, including some new openings: Arts Barcelona (5*GL), W Barcelona (5*GL), Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona (5*GL), Mandarin Oriental (5*GL), Sofitel Barcelona Skipper (5*), Me Barcelona (5*), Intercontinental Barcelona (5*), Hyatt Regency Barcelona Tower (5*), Hilton Barcelona (4*S), H10 Cubik (4*S), Renaissance Barcelona Fira (4*S), Seventy Barcelona (4*S), AC Barcelona Forum (4*), Barceló Sants (4*), Catalonia Barcelona Plaza (4*), The Hoxton (4*), along with a variety of conference hotels in close vicinity of Barcelona such as Dolce by Wyndham Sitges Barcelona (5*), Món Sant Benet (4*S) or Meliá Sitges (4*).
How to get there?
Barcelona is a destination with excellent travel connections with the rest of Spain, Europe and the world. With 47 direct intercontinental flights and 212 European destinations before the pandemic, local authorities have been working hard with the aim to recovering flights that were lost as a result of the strong impact of COVID-19 on the aeronautical sector. Nowadays passenger numbers show signs of recovery.
There are also high-speed trains to Barcelona from Madrid, Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse, and a new connection between Zurich and Barcelona is planned for December 2024.
Do you offer any special services/assistance for associations?
The Barcelona Convention Bureau can help associations organize and promote their meetings, covering the areas of management, planning and logistics. We can assist them with the bidding process (planning and creating the candidature dossier); arranging a room block when necessary; coordinating inspection visits; connecting the association with local suppliers; coordinating with local authorities in the city regarding municipal services and other protocols; promoting the meeting once awarded, etc. All our support and advisory services are completely free of charge.
In addition to this, last December the Barcelona City Council launched the Barcelona MICE Destination Support Programme with the aim of attracting new congresses and events, and to encourage the long-term establishment of events in the city. The creation of the programme was a response to the need to contribute to the reactivation of the city's economy, launching new support measures for the tourism meetings sector, one of the sectors with a most significant economic impact and greater returns to our destination. The Barcelona Tourism Consortium, via the Convention Bureau, will manage the programme's funds and resources.
Personal recommendation/insider tips?
Barcelona is a welcoming destination with a unique touch that invites you to enjoy its gastronomy, culture, climate and traditions. In Barcelona there is a lot to see and do, I would suggest you let yourself experience its spirit, discover its museums, streets, parks... And do not miss the surrounding areas where you can enjoy countless experiences, too.
Whom to contact?
Mr Christoph Tessmar
Director - Barcelona Convention Bureau