Tourism Spotlight

Spain: Reimagining Business Travel

From Seville to Malaga, Spain brims with fantastic venues, top-notch stays, and diverse opportunities to explore the vibrant Spanish culture, making it a perfect MICE destination.

Panoramic view of Malaga at night; © Area de Turismo Ayuntamiento de Málaga
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Spain stands out globally as a bustling centre for professional gatherings in addition to being a sought-after tourist destination. According to the 2022 ICCA report, it holds the second position worldwide for hosting international meetings. This accomplishment is underscored by Barcelona and Madrid both securing spots in the top ten.

The appeal of Spain as a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) destination rests on its robust infrastructure, boasting 16,000 hotels, including around 100 renowned Paradores known for hosting events and their rich history. Spain comfortably accommodates large gatherings with ease.

Adding to its allure, Spain possesses an efficient transportation network, featuring over 30 international airports, seven major cruise ports, a vast 3,000-kilometer high-speed railway system, and Europe's most extensive road network.

Spain's commitment to the MICE sector is ingrained in its core. Through its specialized departments forming the Spain Convention Bureau network and partnerships with experienced local service providers, the country orchestrates over 22,000 business events yearly, attended by nearly four million participants. This ensures not just effective event planning and execution but also a memorable and productive experience for attendees.

Moreover, Spain offers an ideal blend of business and leisure, showcasing architectural marvels like Barcelona's Art Nouveau buildings and a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage sites across its historic cities.

Plaza de España
Plaza de España
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Plaza de España in Sevilla is located within walking distance of Seville city centre; ©Turespaña

SEVILLE

Seville has solidified its reputation as a preferred MICE destination of late by hosting several prestigious events, like Aerospace & Defense Meetings and the Conference on Cardiovascular Disease.

This city’s seamless connectivity, with a high-speed AVE train, San Pablo International Airport, and a modern river port welcoming cruise liners, is one of the top reasons why.

Add to that its excellent climate, culinary delights, and the welcoming hospitality of its locals, and the global allure continues to reach far and beyond, attracting professionals and event planners worldwide.

TOP VENUES

Seville fixes you up with a plethora of unique and efficient options to choose from. The most prominent is FIBES- Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Fibes - Conference and Exhibition
Fibes - Conference and Exhibition
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FIBES-Conference and Exhibition Centre features one of the countrys largest auditoriums; Shutterstock.com

It is regarded as one of Europe's most spacious and cutting-edge conference and exhibition venues, featuring one of Spain's largest auditoriums accommodating 3,500 attendees. Interestingly, it has also been chosen as the venue for the 24th Annual Latin Grammy Awards, set to be held on November 16, 2023. This marks the first time the awards being held outside the USA. On the other hand, nestled along the Guadalquivir River, the Barceló Convention Center is another grand location. It offers 25 halls and a capacity for 1,200 guests, in addition to being surrounded by lush gardens.

WHERE TO STAY

Seville, with 17,000 hotel beds, caters to every traveller's preference. Five-star options include the boutique EME Catedral, featuring two conference rooms—one with cathedral views and the other with a glass floor revealing 1st century Roman ruins. Meanwhile, the Hotel Palacio de Villapanés provides an exclusive 18th-century palace experience.

Alcázar
Alcázar
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Alcázar is Europes oldest royal palace that is still in use today; ©Turespaña

For 4-star accommodations near the Conference Centre, the Hotel Congresos and the AC Hotel Sevilla Forum are excellent choices.

BEYOND BUSINESS

Seville offers a wealth of attractions beyond its business-friendly environment. Must-visit landmarks include the Plaza de España, the Real Alcázar, the María Luisa Park, and the Fine Arts Museum.

However, the real charm of the Sevillian atmosphere lies in relishing an authentic tapas experience. For the real deal, head to areas such as Alameda, Macarena, Nervión, Los Remedios, or Triana. And an evening in Seville is incomplete without catching a flamenco performance at the many notable tablaos in the Triana neighbourhood.

If you have a day or two more, take advantage of Seville's location and plan a day trip to Western Europe's oldest city, Cadiz. Here, visit the iconic Cathedral, blending baroque and neoclassical styles, and savour stunning Atlantic Ocean views with leisurely strolls through the gardens of Alameda de la Apodaca, Genovés Park, and La Caleta Beach. If you want to immerse yourself in nature, then visit the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, Doñana National Park.

Jerez Cathedral
Jerez Cathedral
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Catedral de Jerez de la Frontera combines Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical styles; © www.cadizturismo.com

If you are a wine connoisseur, don't miss a chance to visit the famed bodegas of Jerez de la Frontera if you want to immerse yourself in the world of sherry. While the list of bodegas runs long, you must stop by at the legendary González Byass for an unforgettable wine-tasting session.

MALAGA

With a refreshing cosmopolitan spirit and a history of hosting major original events, such as the INTEREX International Diplomatic and Business Forum and the AEDE Congress (Spanish Association of Endodontic Therapy), Malaga has emerged as a premier MICE destination.

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The city's recent investments in infrastructure, cultural attractions, and a dynamic business environment have made it an ideal choice for showcasing your event.

TOP VENUES

One of the key attractions of Malaga for MICE events is its diverse range of venues. Malaga has everything if you are looking for a historical backdrop, a botanical garden, or a modern conference centre.

The Conference and Exhibition Centre
The Conference and Exhibition Centre
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The Conference and Exhibition Centre boasts two state-of-the-art auditoriums; Shutterstock.com

Located just five minutes from the airport, the Conference and Exhibition Centre boasts two pavilions, two auditoriums, two conference halls, and fifteen multipurpose rooms, making it suitable for trade fairs and conferences of any size.

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For a more unique experience, the Malaga Picasso Museum is a versatile setting for all kinds of events, conferences, and activities. This unique venue offers the opportunity to enjoy a cocktail in the central patio, explore guided tours behind closed doors, conduct video conferences in the Auditorium, and participate in art workshops.

Another great option is Barceló Malaga. Positioned as one of Spain's most state-of-the-art business hotels, it combines modern design with excellent facilities. It enjoys direct access from the HST Railway Station, convenient airport connections, and proximity to the city's main attractions.

WHERE TO STAY

Malaga has witnessed a significant increase in accommodation options, with over 10,000 hotel beds available within the city and 80,000 in the surrounding province, including nearby destinations like Marbella.

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Among five-star hotels, the Gran Hotel Miramar Resort, with modular meeting rooms and garden views, is a favoured stay option for business travel.

For a more accessible yet comfortable stay, consider four-star options like Hotel NH Málaga, which features a modern and functional conference centre, or the Hotel Ilunion Málaga, perfect for combining business and leisure.

Another fantastic option is the Malaga Alameda Centro Affiliated by Meliá, offering an artful experience in the heart of the city, with spacious and naturally lit meeting rooms for up to 40 people.

BEYOND BUSINESS

Beyond its status as a MICE hotspot, Malaga appeals to a history buff with many historic landmarks, like the Alcazaba, one of Andalusia's largest Arab fortresses, or Gibralfaro Castle, providing panoramic city views. Another must-visit attraction is the Picasso Museum, located in the centre and at the birthplace of the legendary artist.

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But for a taste of underground culture, explore the Centre for Contemporary Art, street art adorning city buildings, and the alternative establishments in the Soho neighbourhood.

If you love golf, tee off with your colleagues to Cabell Robinson-designed Finca El Cortesin Golf Club, located at a one-hour drive from Malaga airport.

If you have an extra day, venture to Granada's scenic landscapes and historical sites and explore the renowned Alhambra, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and Spanish Renaissance influence. In addition, stroll through the charming Albaicín neighbourhood, shop for interesting goods at the Alcaiceria, or indulge in an Arab bathhouse like Hamman Al Ándalus. If time permits, add a trip to Sierra Nevada National Park to the mix.

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This article is published in collaboration with Tourism Office of Spain (Turespaña), Mumbai

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