Madrid, March 18, 2021.- In an atypical year, in which the celebration of the AFE General Assembly does not coincide with Fitur as usual, this meeting took place yesterday, March 17, at the IFEMA facilities, which was closed by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, who had accepted the invitation of the President of the Association of Spanish Fairs, Xabier Basañez, to accompany its members in their annual meeting.
Eduardo López-Puertas, General Director of IFEMA, welcomed him and both he and Xabier Basañez thanked the Minister for her presence at an important event for the association. The President of the AFE explained the difficult situation that the sector is going through after a year with little activity and asked the Minister for the maximum possible institutional collaboration to help the reactivation of the fair activity, as a dynamic element of the economic sectors through their participation in the different trade fairs held in Spain.
Basañez declared “in our agenda there is a priority: to achieve the full development of events that promote technology and knowledge, strengthen value alliances and facilitate investment.
But also spaces for sharing social experiences around culture and leisure ”. Regarding the cessation of activity with the cancellation and postponement of events and the uncertainty generated, he explained that "behind the large venues there is an entire ecosystem of supplier companies, many of them family-owned or SMEs."
The AFE had already contacted the Ministry in April 2020, together with the Association of Congress Centers of Spain, to request aid for suppliers and clients as a way of economic reactivation of each of the sectors and a communication campaign in order to to recover the Spain brand as a safe place for holding events.
In his speech, the President of the AFE spoke of the flexibility, commitment and capacity of adaptation of the sector to the changing circumstances in record time, with new meeting models and security protocols with the maximum guarantees. He referred to 2021 as “a year of transition that we started with optimism. We trust in him to be able to resume the activity from April or May and with greater certainty in the second semester thanks also to the institutional collaboration ”. And regarding restrictions on mobility, he stated "at this point the Digital Green Pass will be key, which you have been promoting for a long time and which we appreciate so much."
Reyes Maroto showed his satisfaction with the participation in the Assembly in person and highlighted that the fairgrounds, thanks to the strict protocols, are indeed safe spaces. He reiterated his support for the sector, which he already expressed in another virtual work meeting held in May, and publicly recognized the effort, professionalism and work of those who make trade fairs possible.
She also alluded to the next scheduled fairs, Fitur in May, the Mobile World Congress at the end of June, or the HIP fair, for hospitality, next week in Madrid. The celebration of these and other fairs will show that they can be carried out, with great responsibility and doing things very well, so that we can be an example for other countries.
The Minister indicated that in her ministry they are very aware, not only with the trade fair and event organizations but also with the entire value chain. In this regard, he mentioned the recently approved Decree Law that includes 11,000 million euros in aid to companies and two funds of 3,500 million for debt refinancing and 1,000 million for recapitalization, aimed especially at SMEs, as well as the NextGenerationEU program (plan of recovery of the EU) and the impulse on the part of the President of the European Commission of the Digital Green Pass to favor mobility.
On the other hand, he made reference to a tourism restructuring plan that they are working on and that will revolve around three levers: sustainability, digitization and development of the tourism product, with financial resources for new projects.
She also mentioned the strength of the seasonal adjustment of fairs and congresses compared to other activities that involve the massive arrival of tourists in some months of the year, and that MICE tourism is more committed to quality than quantity.
And he closed his speech with a message of hope and optimism, due to the evolution of vaccination and the need to recover activity in the field of fairs and congresses that customers are already demanding.
The most relevant activities and events of 2020, as well as the accounting close, have been analyzed at the Annual Assembly, and the income and expenses budget for the current fiscal year has been approved under a prudent framework, but with a high number of actions. planned focused on reinforcing the importance and visibility of the fair sector. In addition, the integration of several members in the association has been ratified: the Trade Fair Institution of the Province of Zamora -IFEZA-, the Palace of Exhibitions and Congresses of Seville -FIBES- and the company MitisWorld, of technological services, as a collaborating partner.
The Association of Spanish Fairs, founded in 1964, currently groups 28 members (including 6 suppliers of the fair industry as collaborating partners), who represent more than 90% of the activity of the sector, which represents more than 13,000 million euros of annual joint economic impact, including direct, indirect and induced impacts. Spain is one of the main countries in Europe in terms of fairs, along with Germany, Italy, France, Turkey and the United Kingdom.