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ISSUE 67 / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD / 53Nordic: SwedenIt runs like clockwork in Sweden Super efficient Sweden is known for its clockwork stance to meetings With its breathtaking natural landscape, cultural heritage and lively cities, Sweden offers a wealth of inspiration as a meetings and incentives destination. The country sits in16th place in the ICCA 2010 Country Rankings report with 192 qualifying meetings. Stockholm, it's capital, is in 17th place in ICCA's City Report, with 89 qualifying meetings.The international conference and meetings market in Sweden is predominately based in five Swedish regions. These are: Stockholm, which is trendy and innovative; Swedish Lapland, with its expanses, silence and natural resources; West Sweden, known for its sea, sailing and the archipelago with its thousands of islands and small fishing communities; Gothenburg which has a multi-faceted international business community, the largest harbour in Scandinavia, two international airports, and large groups of immigrants, and Malmö and Skåne which represent expansion, with new arenas and hotel facilities being planned and constructed in the region.There are a number of new developments for conferences and meetings in Sweden. Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre and Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel opened in January 2011 and is Sweden's newest and most versatile venue complex for large-scale meetings and events built on the waters' edge. It has the capacity to host up to 3,000 people.Scandic Grand Central hotel, in Stockholm, opened in October 2011 with 391 rooms and is a flexible meeting and conference venue for up to 120 delegates. Clarion Hotel Post has been open for business since January 2012 and is the Choice hotel chain's flagship hotel in Scandinavia. It is a four-star property centrally located in Gothenburg. The hotel has 500 hotel rooms and can host events for up to 1,500 people. The hotel also offers 17 smaller meeting rooms. Sweden has a population of 9.3m inhabitants. It is the third largest country in Western Europe with 53 per cent of it made up of forests, 11 per cent mountains, eight per cent cultivated land and nine per cent lakes and rivers Sweden's most important export goods are machinery, electronics and telecommunication, paper, pharmaceuticals, petroleum products, iron and steel, and foodstuffs Sweden has yet to ratify the Euro treaty, its currency is the Krona Daylight hours vary dramatically in Sweden. On January 1 in Stockholm there are six hours of daylight, on July 1, 18 hours In 2011, foreign visitors to Sweden consumed a value of 87.1bn Swedish Crowns. This means that the Swedish tourism industry has a higher export value than both iron and steel exports and car exports Norway, Germany and Denmark are the three largest markets providing foreign visitors to Sweden Airlines have cut their prices and introduced new classes of travel to meet the competition. SAS Scandinavian Airlines, the national carrier, operates connecting fl ights to major cities in Sweden via Stockholm Average life expectancy in Sweden is 79 for men and 83 for women Eating out: Try a typical Swedish smorgasbord-style breakfast; a dagens ratt (dish of the day) at lunchtime, served in most restaurants 11am to 2pm and maybe a local varmkorv hotdog for an evening snack.Fast factsAbove: A breathtaking natural landscape awaits in Sweden Sweden's place in ICCA's country rankingsICCA16THOla Ericson / Justin Brown / Fredrika Berghult /

54 / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD / ISSUE 67Nordic: FinlandFinland designs the right meeting approachFinland's meetings attraction seems to be its ability to design the right meetings architectureFinland has recently won a series of accolades which highlight the country's meetings appeal. According to an annual study by Swiss consultancy firm Mercer, Helsinki, Finland's capital, is the second safest city in the world. The New York Times listed Helsinki as the second most interesting destination in the world in 2012 and one reason for the ranking was Helsinki being named the World Design Capital for 2012. It is a joint venture between five cities: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and Lahti. In the ICCA Country Rankings Finland placed 21st and 13th in Europe with 150 qualifying meetings. The Finland Convention Bureau conducted a survey of 2,474 congress delegates and found that 62 per cent were in Finland for the first time. Eighty-nine per cent of those regarded the local congress industry as 'excellent' or 'very good'.The bureau says the country hosts on average 400 international association congresses, attracting 60,000 delegates a year. The economic impact of its meetings industry is ?72m annually. Last year broke all records for meetings at the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre (HECC). In all, 1,706 meetings, congresses and events were hosted there in 2011, which is a 15 per cent increase year-on-year. "Over the year, the centre provided its services to over one million visitors meaning we are the busiest event venue in Finland," says HECC Congress Manager, Veronica Krabbe. Recently, the HECC won the 2012 edition of Nokia World, an annual convention of 3,000 delegates dedicated to the mobile phone manufacturer's products. It will take place 25-26 September at the HECC's new 15,000sqm Hall 7, which opened in 2011.In terms of logistics, 145 daily international flights operate to and from Helsinki and Finland offers organisers 1,100 meeting venues and hotels. One of its newest ventures is the Scandi Paasi hotel, which will have 170 bedrooms, 30 meeting rooms and four restaurants when it opens in spring 2012. It is connected to the recently-renovated Helsinki Congress Paasitorni. Location, meetings infrastructure and an experienced industry seems to be the right combination for organisers. In 2011, the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre hosted 1,706 meetings with the largest being the European Congress of Pathology, which brought 2,400 medical professionals and exhibitors to the centre. Date: 27 August to 1 September 2011Delegate numbers: 2,100From how many countries?76. Most of the delegates were from Greece, Finland, Spain, the US and Germany. Challenges: The destination was new to all parties organising the conference.Activities/events held: The Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre worked with a local destination management company to offer sightseeing tours in and around Helsinki as well as a post congress tour to St Petersburg, which was very well attended by approximately 100 participants. The organiser also held a reception in the City Hall. Comment from organiser: "Helsinki is a safe city, where everything works. The city was perceived as a good congress destination. And the event team in Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre was extremely professional, helpful and friendly. "We had their full attention and every additional request was taken care of right away. Also the catering was honestly the best we have had at a convention centre in many years and the client, the European Society of Pathology, was extremely happy with it. "The centre's conference technology and all other services worked well and effi ciently, too," says the MD of congress organising company CPO Hanser Service, Inge Hanser.Case studyAbove: The Helsinki Exhibition and Convention CentreDelegates surveyed were visiting Finland for the first timeFINLAND CONVENTION BUREAU62%