Artigo5 - EN

MICE Industry
Rui Costa, Professor at the University of Aveiro

Only numbers and only numbers define reality and make it visible and comparable.

The congresses and events represent one of the central areas of tourism, and constitute one of the main drivers of the development of the sector and an important generator of income, employment and investment. In addition to the business opportunities it allows, the subsector of congresses and events generates important benefits for the economy in general, induces a higher level of expenses, reduces seasonality, contributes to the regeneration of destinations, disseminates knowledge and increases innovation and creativity.

And in Portugal … what is the importance of the subsector of congresses and events? The ‘speech’ of political power refers to the importance of this sector to the economy in general terms, its central role in generating employment and income, the international projection of Portugal as a tourist destination and the promotion of tourism in the territories, in valuing local economies, their endogenous products and their histories and traditions. But … what is the basis … what data … that allows us to support this opinion? Who are the congress and event companies?

To answer this question, it is important to define, first, what an event is and what its typologies are. Research carried out in this area defines an event as ‘an activity or set of organized activities, with the specific purpose of promoting the encounter between people, in spaces prepared for the purpose, during a determined period of time and in function of the objectives that justify its accomplishment’ . But does this definition include all the different aspects and typologies of events, and the specifics inherent to this type of activity in Portugal? It is important, therefore, to agree on the concept, its scope, and the different typologies that integrate it.

And what is the business reality of the subsector of congresses and events? How many companies of congresses and events exist in Portugal? What is its size and business structure? How much turnover do you generate? What is its geographical distribution? What is its economic importance? Questions for which there is no concrete answer, since there is no data that allow to quantify objectively the business reality and the economic importance of this subsector.

Considering the information available in the National Statistics Institute (INE), there are 21,706 companies of congresses and events in Portugal, distributed by the Codes of Economic Activities: 82300 – Organization of Fairs, Congresses and Other Similar Events (6%); 90010 – Performing Arts Activities (75%); 93192 – Other sports activities (19%). However, the opinion is unanimous, the data presented do not reflect the reality of the sector of congresses and events in Portugal. However, this is a central issue for the assessment of the subsector’s economic weight because only numbers and numbers alone define reality and make it visible and comparable. Kaplan and Norton (1992) stated that ‘one can only manage what can be measured’.

Given the difficulties inherent in delimiting and consensualizing the concept, and quantifying the importance of the subsector of congresses and events, it is considered fundamental (1) To deepen the technical-scientific knowledge on the theme of the congresses and events in order to consensualize the concept of event, the different types of events, as well as clarify the basis of its recognition as a tourist event. (2) To characterize the offer available and the profile of the businessmen and the companies of congresses and events, which will allow to know in detail the activity of the event companies, their attributes and distinctive characteristics, as well as the profile, qualifications, experience and competence of managers of events companies; (3) Evaluate the current demand profile and the economic impact of the congress and event companies, which will allow to characterize the current and potential demand of the activities of the event companies, their profile, characteristics and behaviors of purchase and consumption, as well as how to assess the economic impact generated on their regional and local economic bases.

Rui Costa, Professor at the University of Aveiro