During two weeks of environmental protests around Turkey, the World's # 1 congress destination with more than 500 delegates, Istanbul has successfully continued hosting International congresses. Within the last two weeks Istanbul has hosted The 14th EFORT Congress, with 6,800 participants, the Turkish Pediatrics Society, with 2,000 participants and several other prestigious meetings and congresses have been successfully held in Istanbul’s Congress Valley and environs.
The tourism industry is among the sectors most directly impacted by the protests that have taken place primarily in Istanbul's Taksim Square, but also throughout Turkey, in recent days. The members of the tourism industry have invested significant effort in both ensuring that their guests are not negatively impacted by the protests.
The government has publicly stated that they have understood the demands made by protesters exercising their democratic rights and will take the steps necessary. Moreover, currently Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is working on greening and planting the Gezi Park and the protests finished in Taksim Area and back to its everyday life.
Elif Balcı Fisunoğlu, the General Manager of the Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau, evaluated the impact of the protests in Taksim's Gezi Park on the tourism industry.
"Thus far there have been very few congresses cancelled," said Fisunoğlu, continuing, "However, there have, of course, been last-minute cancellations at hotels. As of this point in time, nothing has happened that will negatively affect Istanbul's reputation or interfere with the city's ability to attract future congresses."
Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau reported; "This week the Hilton Istanbul will host a congress with 250 participants, while the Haliç Congress Center will host a congress with around 1.000 participants. We continue to provide the national and international organizers with coordination assistance and communication support.
We are providing all relevant parties with information and images showing that normal business and social life in Istanbul is not disrupted, that life goes on as usual. Necessary steps have been taken to inform and reassure organizers of congresses to be held in the near future in Istanbul.”
Fisunoğlu stated that Istanbul closed out 2011 & 2012 as the world's number one destination for congresses with 500 or more delegates.
Fisunoğlu, while stating that she hoped that current events would not threaten Istanbul's leading position said, "On the basis of numbers extracted from ICCA figures, it looks as Istanbul is sharing the number one position with Barcelona and Paris in 2012 for congresses with 500 and more participation." The happenings have not affected Istanbul’s image as a leading international congress and tourism destination. Istanbul is recognized as a peaceful, safe and stable destination thanks to the many high-profile events it has hosted.
Moreover, since Istanbul offers several independent congress and meeting districts with full infrastructure including venues and accommodations, some organizers have opted to relocate their events within the city during this short period.
As Istanbul and Turkey return to business as usual, underlining the increasing maturity of the country’s democracy, we look forward to welcoming international guests to an exciting schedule of congresses and high-profile cultural events, including the Istanbul Shopping Fest, which runs through June 30th. Sports fans will not want to miss the Mediterranean Games being held in Mersin from June 20th – 30th, or the FIFA U-20 World Cup being hosted all around the country including Istanbul from June 21st to July 13th.
For any questions, please contact the Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau (ICVB), www.icvb.org
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