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Exhibition World | KrakowTHE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET| April 2011|23Cracking the codeMike Trudeauvisits Krakow to investigate its growing exhibition offering.When considering exhibitions in Poland, tradefair capital Poznan or political capitalWarsaw inevitably spring to mind. However,the southern city Krakow is quietly ramping up itsexhibition offering with the addition of two new venues tocomplement many smaller facilities. Add to this the old-European feel of the place and you have a powerfulrecipe for a memorable destination.Poland's third-largest city, Krakow is peppered with small-to medium-sized meetings facilities, but has a surprisingdearth of exhibition space. The only venue capable ofholding a sizeable expo is Targi w Krakowie (TK), namesakeof its managing company who is also the city's largestorganiser. The venue has only 6,000sqm, expandable bytemporary structures. Its largest exhibitions are the KrakowBook Fair (3 to 6 November 2011) and the destructively-named Krakdent dental expo (3-5 March 2011).That is all to change. Privately funded by TK, CracoviaExpo will be the city's first combined exhibition andconference space. Plans include 18,000sqm of exhibitionspace and a 1,600-seat auditorium. Although TK hasbattled local bureaucracy to proceed, site developmentpermission has recently come from the council, and at thetime of writing final approval is expected by mid-April. "Getting the proper permission is a bigger problem thanactually building the venue," said Pawel Niklinski, vice-president of TK. He added that TK continuously turns awaybusiness because Krakow lacks the proper facilities."It's been two years since we asked for permission, but inthe end we got it," he said.In addition, the International Conference andEntertainment (ICE) centre is due to open in 2015 and willfinally deliver what Krakow needs in terms of dedicatedvenue space. Mostly a conference destination, the publicly-funded ICE aims to capitalise on the European trendtowards mixed-use venues as opposed to dedicatedexhibition or conference spaces.The building is modern and curvaceous, sitting on thebank of the Vistula river and 15 minutes from town. ICE willhave an 1,800sqm, three-storey glass foyer for exhibitionsor banquets, a 2,000-seat auditorium and a 600-seattheatre. The venue will also hold two bars and tworestaurants, a florist, shop, VIP room, press centre and two-storey underground car park.Although construction began in October 2010 the factthat it is being built on public funds means more rigorousbureaucracy than usual. Complications in the process forselecting builders have confounded the project and forcedthe opening date back almost a year to September 2015.Unfortunately, this means several pre-booked events had tobe postponed or re-located.Rounding out the business-visit experience is Krakow'svaried arsenal of unique venues. These include botanicalgardens, castles, towers and museums of everything frompharmaceuticals to aircraft. However, the jewel in Krakow'sunique venue crown is without doubt the Wieliczka SaltMine. Hundreds of metres below the surface and hand-carved from salt rocks centuries ago, the mine offers eventplanners an elegant meeting space in a hideout-style. Krakow's Mayor Jacek Majchrowski acknowledges theneed for dedicated venue space to improve the city'sinternational standing. "Krakow needs new conference andexhibition venues," he told EW. "The presence of additionalexhibition and conference infrastructure will surely allow thecity to be even more competitive on the Polish tourismmarket in comparison with other big cities in the country.Krakow has all the means and potential to become animportant business tourism destination."The Krakow Convention Bureau hopes the city's charmcoupled with two big new venues will boost it into themodern-day events market. In the meantime, the race forexhibition business in Poland is getting even hotter with theAmber Exhibition and Conference Centre due to open inGdansk in spring 2012.Cracovia ExpoThe Krakow ICE, due in 2015

Successful exhibitions traditionally take place incities or countries with a strong reputation for thesector the exhibition has been conceived toserve. The automotive industry provides a clear exampleof this. Four of the five largest international motor showstake place in the auto manufacturing hotbeds ofGermany, Tokyo, the US and France. Despite therecession's impact on the car manufacturing industry,they continue to pull in the visitors, buoyed perhaps bythe collapse of lesser global car exhibitions.It's the fifth member of this top-tier group, the GenevaInternational Motor Show, held in a country with nodomestic car manufacturing industry, that provides anunusual argument for an international exhibitionorganiser.The learned wisdom is that shows should be held inmarkets with a strong related local markets. But the truthis that Geneva benefits from Switzerland's neutrality.Much as it did during the world wars, and still does fortoday's chastened hedgefunds, Switzerland offers itsclientele refuge; a place where they can do business onequal terms with their competitors. Take Detroit as an example; America's motor city. Somebrands will be put off launching a new model in the backFeature| Exhibition World24| April 2011| THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NETNeutral groundThere are no major car manufacturers in Switzerland - so why is the GenevaInternational Motor Show still on the podium while others limp into the pit lane? Antony Reeve-Crooklooks at one of Europe's most glamourous events.Photography: Chris Seaman