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COUNTRY PROFILEwww.exhibition-world.net Issue 8 | 201147specialised facility for fashion and lifestyle events including two permanent catwalks. Shows on fashion and style could be major contributors to the success of Spanish exhibitions. The country is after all blessed with that exportable Mediterranean style shared by neighbouring Italy and France."We believe that Madrid, despite Spain's current adversity, will continue to show signs of recovery," Cortes adds. The economic impact today generated by the IFEMA's trade fair activity amounts to US$2.7bn annually, about one per cent of Madrid's GDP and sustains 40,000 direct and indirect jobs. "In this way, our obligation is to continue along these lines and continue to bolster our different activity sectors," maintains Cortes, pictured below.The Catalan capitalFira de Barcelona has a portfolio of 70 trade shows, 15 of which are ranked among the three leading events in their speciality in Europe. These bring together 35,000 companies (direct and represented) and receive three and a half million visitors every year. The venue recently completed its Gran Via Venue with two new halls that add up to a total of 240,000sqm of exhibition space, which means that today its exhibition fl oor space covers 405,000sqm with the Montjuïc and Gran Via venues. It too is feeling the squeeze, and for the fi rst time in its history is adopting the German international model; launching new events in China. It will organise an edition of Construmat in Beijing from 11 to 13 July 2012 thanks to an agreement reached with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). Construction grew ASOCIACION DE ORGANIZADORES FERIALES' (AOF) PRESIDENT FRANCISCO CARRIO Which of the Spanish cities are growing fastest, in terms of exhibitions and trade fairs?Between 2000 and 2005 many fairgrounds were built in Spain and existing ones were expanded, without performing a pre-feasibility study. This created an excess of shows from the same sectors. Currently, only the sites located in large cities have a certain level of activity, such as Barcelona for its appeal to international events organisers and Madrid for hosting events focused on the Iberian market.What is the Government doing to win business in other cities where business is not so big? For example, Zaragoza has 190,000sqm of space - does it have many events that can use that space? How can we fi ll it?The exhibition area in Spain goes far beyond the real needs, but this also happens in other countries. The venues have increased their capacity to meet the needs of their leader exhibitions, which has meant that they are unoccupied the most of the time. For that reason, some venues have implemented large price discounts but it will be diffi cult for them to keep for long this policy pricing.Bearing in mind the comments of Professor Antonio Argandoña, namely that without foreign assistance, Spain alone must pull itself out of the current diffi culty, how important are exhibitions in assisting foreign investment and export?Spanish companies know they need to export because the domestic market does not grow. Spanish fairs receive domestic visitors and only some of them have a signifi cant percentage of foreign visitors. Thus, Spanish companies are betting on display abroad, participating in group pavilions organised by ICEX.What should attract foreign organisers to stage their exhibitions in Spain?Nowadays, Spain is offering a network of venues gifted with the latest technology in cities well connected to the rest of the world with modern infrastructure and excellent value for money in hotels, gastronomy and tourism.500 millionThe number of people around the world speaking Spanish today, making it the world's second most spoken fi rst language