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By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Minister of Tourism for Brazil, Marx Beltrão, convened in London this week with tourism ministers from across Latin American for the 2016 World Travel Market conference, the leading global event for the travel industry. Attended by representatives from around the globe, the goal of the conference is to formalize partnerships between the various countries through the travel industry.

Brazil Tourism Minister, Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão (center) with Embratur president, Vinicius Lummertz (left), at the WTM travel conference in London, internet photo reproduction.

“Why are none of the Latin American countries among the top ten performing for international events in the ranking of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA)?” asked Beltrão, who only took over as Tourism Minister in October, to the other Latin American representatives.

For ten years, Brazil had been in the ICCA’s top ten rankings of countries that have held international events and conferences. But in the organization’s latest survey, Brazil dropped to 11th place, despite having hosted 272 events, one more than the previous year.

“Our meeting here today only makes sense if we unite together,” exclaimed the new minister. Beltrão invited the other Latin American countries to make a joint offensive effort to win more international events. “We need to map the opportunities in a timely manner and have an aggressive strategy of enchantment of the organizers. We need to professionalize our events harvesting structures, working in an integrated manner,” he said.

According to the ICCA, which publishes the industry-wide travel survey for international events, the international events segment, including business meetings, events and conferences, hit a record high in 2015. There were 12,075 international events in the world, 571 more than that registered in 2014, a growth of almost five percent.

“The elite of world thought travels the world spreading knowledge through conferences, congresses or symposia. The intangible value of the diffusion of intelligence through events is perhaps the greatest quality of this segment,” exclaimed Beltrão, “even more than economic gains.”

To be counted in the ICCA rankings, the meeting or event must follow certain criteria: they must be organized by a group or association, be held on a regular basis, have at least fifty delegates, and rotate between at least three countries.

The top country for international meetings and conferences in 2015 was the U.S., with 925 events last year. Rounding out the top five were Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and France.

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