Granada: Meetings in the heart of Flamenco!

19th Apr, 2024

Granada is a unique city recognised for its remarkable culture, history and quality of life. It also boasts an excellent portfolio of venues, hotels and MICE services that bridge the gap to its research and education institutions. We spoke with the director of the local convention bureau about the upswing of activity, upcoming events and legacies for the region.

At the foot of the Sierra Nevada, between the Darro and Genil rivers, lies one of the most interesting cities in southern Iberia. Granada is one of Spain’s most visited destinations thanks to the Alhambra, its museums and monuments, the gastronomy and its close link with flamenco culture. To the impressive Andalusian legacy, from which the Moorish culture is indistinguishable, are added the architectural jewels of the Renaissance and the most modern facilities of the 21st century. The fact that it was the last city reconquered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 gives Granada an unmistakable Arab flavour.

Nevertheless, Granada has been a MICE destination for over 20 years, positioning the city and the province as one of the main destinations for meetings and conventions in Spain, largely due to its prestigious university, its Health Technology Park, the Spanish National Research Council and its renowned hospitals. “In terms of business tourism figures, Granada has shown in the pre-pandemic years good results compared to its competitors and, especially in 2023 and beyond, a large number of MICE events are being confirmed, once again supporting the attractiveness of our destination for hosting meetings and events of all kinds,” reveals Eva Garde, Director of Granada Convention Bureau (GCB).

Granada and its businesses have been patient and resilient during these recent years. For GCB, this has been a period of self-reflection in which many destination management companies and city stakeholders have taken the opportunity to reinvent themselves. With the comeback of demand in the sector, DMCs have responded with conviction and competence alongside event organisers to make it possible for any type of event to return to this unique destination.

“The attraction of our destination for association congresses can be summed up in the ideal size of our city, well connected with a congress centre in the city centre and with more than 16,000 high-quality hotel rooms within walking distance, as well as a historical and cultural offer that makes it possible to organise a unique and distinctive social programme that only Granada can offer,” Garde tells us. “The diversity of our province is not to be forgotten, within a 30-minute drive, you can find a thousand and one ways to get away from the city, from the desert to the mountains, from snow to the tropical coast of Granada.” It’s safe to say that one of Granada’s priorities is to continue to grow and evolve as a consolidated MICE destination, based on sustainable and cross-sectoral development. Sustainability has become more than a priority, but a commitment involving all public and private players.

On the other hand, Granada is also a living testimony to several civilisations and a crossing point for various cultures, both in its rich history and in tourism in Spain, welcoming people from many other nations into an exciting and effervescent melting pot. “This has become one of our most idiosyncratic characteristics and one of our great differentiating elements, and it can only be truly understood when you come to discover los Duendes de la Alhambra that captivate everyone who visits.

However, in recent years, the tourism business network specialised in MICE has shown great commitment to staying at the forefront of new technological trends, modernising their facilities and offering innovative products and experiences, demonstrating a real commitment to sustainability and the environment,” explains Eva, who goes on: “GCB actively participates in international associations such as ICCA and other Spanish national associations, in order to keep abreast of the latest developments in the sector and to be able to offer our destinations and companies the latest tools and information on trends that are currently taking place.”

As in so many other destinations, the Andalusian city faces major environmental problems, such as CO2 emissions and air pollution, for which the circular economy can provide solutions. Sustainability for those in charge here is more than awareness, it is a commitment to action and the only viable way to do tourism. “The city’s professional MICE and Tourism sectors have responded through official ISO 20121 certifications, measuring and off-setting the carbon event footprint, tackling responsible waste management, and adopting local products,” says Garde. “The positive impact that MICE tourism has on destinations, from a transversal perspective of their economy, society and environment, is increasingly evident for Granada’s public institutions and private companies, and the commitment to this segment has left a more than proven positive impact and tangible legacy.”

Moreover, the Granada Congress Club aims to recognise the achievements of leaders in medicine, science, technology, business, academia, and research centres, who in their position and within their areas of expertise, have been trying to attract conferences to the city and promote it internationally. “The legacy that events leave in destinations in the long term is much more than a positive impact,” says Garde, “it becomes a lasting impact with objectives aligned both with the association or event organiser, and with the destination and its priorities.” This is in line with the local strategy to raise awareness among stakeholders to ensure that events have a positive long-term impact, generating measurable changes at social, political and infrastructural levels.

Held from 9-13 September, 2023, IBRO World Congress of Neuroscience, brought together more than 4,000 experts from 90+ countries, following the bidding process initiated in 2014 by the Spanish Society of Neurosciences, Kenes and the GCB. According to the director, hosting this congress is great news because it will have an important and lasting positive impact in many areas: “An example of this is the painting exhibition ‘Butterflies of the soul’ (pictured on the right) by Ramón y Cajal, to bring knowledge about the brain science closer to local citizens. The exhibition opened last June and will last until the end of September 2023, as a way to raise awareness for the congress.”

Focusing on the legacy of events held in Granada, another example worth mentioning would be the recent congress of the Spanish Society of General Medicine (SEMG) held in the city last June. With the aim of drawing attention to the lack of sleep quality in adolescents due to the use of smartphones and new technologies, the SEMG launched a local communication campaign called “Don’t let technology steal your dreams”. On the occasion, several lectures were held in local schools and a competition on the subject is planned at the end of the year.

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