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COUNTRY 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

COUNTRY PROFILEIssue 8 | 2011 www.48exhibition-world.net26.7 per cent in China so it's understandable MD of Fira de Barcelona, Agustín Cordón, would go looking for a slice of this market. In addition Fira de Barcelona's Hostelco will have its own pavilion at HDD Shanghai, aimed at equipment suppliers for the hospitality sector, following an agreement reached with organiser UBM Sinoexpo.Barcelona is also organising its own shows in Latin America, channelling Fira exhibitors into foreign events and selling services, technology, management and advice to other organisers and exhibition centres.Although Barcelona has developed a dynamic service sector connected to the tourism industry - it is home to Reed's EIBTM business travel and events show - one of the strongest pillars of its economy continues to be the industrial sector. Barcelona is a prominent actor in chemical, electronics, logistics, motor, printing, textile, telecommunications and information technology service industries. The greater Catalan region is with good reason the richest of Spain's 17 semi-autonomous regions.Pere Camprubí, director of expansion at Fira de Barcelona, explains that regardless of demand, the venue and organiser still needs government assistance."By supporting us, the Government is supporting the industry. Amid the current economic crisis, which often implies a weak internal demand, Spanish companies need to go abroad," he says. "What in the bonanza years was just advisable is now a must. And that is what we are trying to do: help medium and small companies to reach new markets."Sailing Spain out of the choppy watersGoing abroad certainly seems to be the order of the day. The Spanish professor of economics and La Caixa bank chair of corporate social responsibility and corporate governance Antonio Argandoña, paints a sobering, if poetic, picture of his beleaguered European country for EW."When we discovered the hole at the bottom of the ship we fl ed the water until we reached the deck. But still the water is coming in. And we have nowhere left to go. The private sector has recognised the situation and adapted, but alas the public sector has not."But there's no escaping the facts. Soaring national debt, a 21 per cent unemployment rate and a nationwide reluctance to spend manifests in economic adversity the likes of which Spain hasn't seen in years. It's enough to send a shiver down the spine of any investors, not least its fellow Eurozone nations such as France and Germany.SMART CITY: GREEN REIGNS IN SPAINFira de Barcelona hopes to trade on the city's green credentials with Smart City, a new event celebrating green civic development and sustainable infrastructure solutions. EW grabbed fi ve minutes with event director Luis Gomez."Green and sustainability sectors are fi lled with innovation, however, green credentials in infrastructure development are now obligatory. "It's important for Europe to keep up with innovation. Ministries and major companies have altered their programmes to accommodate green issues and unlike places such as France, which uses the most nuclear energy in Europe, Spain is dependent on new energy solutions. "This event follows on the back of a new association, which began life as a lobbying group and rose to become the Smart City Global Association. "The European Commission put ?260m into picking several cities that can lead by example and Barcelona is one of them."Of course things won't happen in a day but hopefully we can begin the discussion with Smart City."Smart City takes place 29 November to 2 DecemberLeft:Visitors at BieMH machine tool exhibitionBelow:A busy day at the Bilbao Exhibition Centre