Antwerp: Embracing the future

14th Oct, 2015

With the opening of many new and renovated venues, it looks like hosting events in Antwerp has never been more exciting. As the new marketing campaign suggests, Antwerp will wow meeting planners and delegates as an atypical destination of art, fashion, gastronomy, and much more.
Report Katie Lau

“Atypical” is the specific word used by the city government to promote Antwerp in a new way. “Antwerp is a unique city in many ways. It’s a small city with lots to do and see. Many attractions are just within walking distance. It’s also a port city about 80km from the sea while the sea is usually close to the urban area in other cities,” said Inge Marstboom, business development manager of Visit Antwerp.

Melting pot
Furthermore, Antwerp is a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities, like Paris and London. “It’s such a diverse city on a small scale,” she continued. “As an innovative city of knowledge, Antwerp is one of the world’s most important diamond centres with four trading exchanges. It’s rare for a small city to do so,” she said.

Most notably, Antwerp is a vibrant and creative city known for its fashion, culture, gastronomy and people. Seamlessly combining arts and culture into events is what makes Antwerp such a wonderful congress destination, and the ISWA (The International Solid Waste Association) World Congress, held this early September, is a good case in point.

“I was really surprised to find that during the plenary sessions, there was a small interval of 3-4 minutes featuring art performances, such as opera and dance, after each speaking session. I find it very original and beautiful… It shows that Antwerp can make these things happen,” she said.

Ongoing upgrade
Antwerp has also been busy upgrading its infrastructure. The Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp (FMCCA), scheduled to open in November 2016 with a capacity for up to 2,000 guests, is located right next to the Antwerp Zoo and the Central Station with easy access to “beautiful gardens perfect for cocktail receptions and coffee breaks. I’m looking forward to it because we have been focusing on attracting bigger international conventions,” Inge said.

This year also sees the openings of venues like The Shop, restored from a historical building located in the trendy waterfront area Eilandje. The recently revamped Café Local, in the south of Antwerp, is ideal for corporate events and private parties. Comprehensive renovation plans are also being developed to turn Antwerp Expo into a state-of-the-art venue as well. Museum Plantin-Moretus, a special venue for incentives and workshops, is also undergoing renovation while the MAS Museum will celebrate its fifth anniversary next year, not to mention the many cultural events and festivals that take place all year round.

Antwerp seems to have a busy year ahead. Apart from focusing on bigger international conventions, Marstboom said her team would “work harder for association markets. We’ll keep working actively on primary markets (Belgium, Holland, Germany, France, the UK and the USA) but we also hope to increase our visibility in secondary markets such as the BRIC countries. We will do it one step at a time.”

More info

(Photo: Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp)

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