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exhibition sheds precedes the global fi nancial crisis. Far from being an excuse for the issue, the crisis is a reason for a renewed commitment to pack these venues with people. Spanish recovery is dependent on its export industry. So what needs to be done to fi ll these venues? "We are aware of the situation that Spain is facing, and it's not the best for our industry," concedes Jose Miguel Corres, CEO of Bilbao Exhibition Centre. "Like everybody in the sector, we are always considering new projects. At the moment we have two projects ready to be launched. The big question is when? Firms need to make cash before attending shows or engaging in other marketing activities. That is the situation we are in. We are aware that the 'early bird catches the worm' but we also know that a good project could be ruined by bad timing."Bilbao's industrial prominence in Spain means the majority of its shows sit in sectors such as heavy industry, steel production, forging, capital goods, machine tools, automotive engineering and energy. As a result its major shows are related to B2B, machine tools (BieMH), hardware

COUNTRY PROFILEIssue 8 | 2011, small producers of components for other industries (Cumbre Industrial and Subcontraction), the maritime sector (Sinaval Elite) and energy (EFEF)."The Government is aware of the importance and dissemination of the effects of MICE activities and wants to encourage them, but their main reason is to help exports," Corres adds. "The biggest challenge is to recover the levels of activity and fi gures that we had prior to the crisis, mainly in the bigger shows that we run."At the same time we must accept that some areas will never be the same again, and must continue developing new business."Through a new strategic plan involving adapting former events to the current time and situation, and creating new shows demanded by the markets, Bilbao hopes to double its turnover in a six-year time-frame.In the capital, at Feria de Madrid (IFEMA), Luis Eduardo Cortes is also facing the daunting prospect of growing his business in a complicated environment. IFEMA, with the support of its four member institutions the Community of Madrid, the City of Madrid, the Chamber of Commerce and Caja Madrid, oversees 80 trade fairs and 400 annual meetings."Without any doubt our guiding mission is to become more and more competitive, now more than ever given the fi nancial situation today," says Cortes. "To do this it has been essential to innovate, investigate new projects, establish strategies and forge alliances that afford us access to international markets and allow us to consolidate our position."Agile adaptationCortes maintains IFEMA has strived to adapt in an "agile" manner to current circumstances, developing new fairs and acquiring products that are already well-established, while entering previously unchecked market niches that he refers to as "outside the fair circuit" until now. And the search for competent partners to develop new initiatives is ongoing.This policy also extends to infrastructure, which has been dynamic, responding to the needs arising from demand, modernisation needs and the development of new architectural projects. "The most recent and ambitious of these," says Cortes, "is the design of a themed space in the new halls that serves to provide Madrid with a Left:Set for dinner at Feria ValenciaSEARCHING FOR SPACE IN SEVILLEThe Seville Conference and Exhibition Centre (FIBES) entered a new expansion phase earlier this year with a new auditorium holding 1,950 seats and a mobile panel system enabling the auditorium to hold several events simultaneously.The building, developed by the architect Guillermo Vazquez Consuegra, has a covered bridge linking the existing building with the new one and a 2,500sqm exhibition area. Thirteen breakout rooms will be made available by the development.The extension includes a 6,000sqm patio suitable for outdoor events.Conferences and trade fairs in Andalucia generated ?385m in revenue from lodging, meals, transport and leisure last year.The number of visitors that attended the Spanish pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. The metal wicker-style pavilion was designed by Spanish architect studio EMBT Miralles-Tagliabue.4 MILLION