The Business Year

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Convention centers offer not only a way to bring in MICE tourism, but also a way to encourage growth in the private sector through job generation by bringing together experts across sectors.

Alexandra Torres

Director, Ágora Bogotá Convention Center

Ágora held 21 international events in 2019 for important players such as Google, Intel, and Amazon. In general, our main target is to make this city an international one and help create the productive environment that the city needs to grow. We need to leverage those opportunities, and I see potential for events coming from new professions, especially in the ICT sector. One of Colombia’s main problems is its previous notoriety; however, many have noticed the positive things about Colombia, and this industry is an important way to continue this trend of positivity. When there are young people talking about the future, it means something is going on in this city. Bogotá is already known for international conventions. For example, we will host the World Congress on neurosurgery in 2021; it is a first-class congress that has been absent from Latin America for a while. Hosting international events benefits the country, the city, and local associations and has effects on the city’s economic development.

Diana Rodrí­guez

General Manager, Cartagena de Indias Convention Center

Since taking over the Cartagena de Indias Convention Center, Grupo Heroica has streamlined its operations, increasing the venue’s competitiveness and doubling its revenue. We hosted 249 events in 2018, with over 230,000 people in attendance. Usually, convention centers are managed through public-private partnerships. We are a privately managed convention center, so we are actively involved with the chamber of commerce as a supplier for its events or as part of its business development programs. In general terms, a well-developed hospitality infrastructure and the city’s unique charm will influence demand for the convention center. International hotel chains like Hyatt, InterContinental, and Conrad have opened hotels here, and there is a growing number of direct flights to Cartagena. Arts and culture, maritime, petrochemicals, and plastics are also growing. Lastly, through the Port of Cartagena, we are consolidating our position as a leader in the Caribbean.

Ricardo Plata

Economic Development Director, Ricardo Plata

Barranquilla’s chamber of commerce is a key part of the city’s social and financial structures, as well as the Puerta de Oro economic development corporation. The chamber provides critical insight and analysis on the evolution of clusters, high-impact enterprises, and exports that are important for public policy decisions regarding economic development. Additionally, it provides guidance and mentorship to new and existing businesses and investors. Puerta de Oro has allowed Barranquilla to host important trade fairs, including major agricultural, gastronomic, and automobile trade fairs that have positioned the city as an attractive option in the greater Caribbean basin. These events have been possible because of our state-of-the-art infrastructure and collaboration from the complete local tourism value chain. Moving forward, we aim to leverage the city’s geographical location to attract export businesses. Puerta de Oro has been a critical catalyst in the success of the local private sector’s growth.

Ricardo Vives

Director of Urban Projects and City Intelligence, Puerta de Oro

Our first project was the construction of the Puerta de Oro Convention Center. At the project’s beginning, it was clear that Barranquilla could benefit from an external professional operator such as the Bogotá-based Corferias Group. This group chose to establish its first offsite operation in Barranquilla, so we agreed on a contract to operate the convention center. With this partnership, we have been able to attract several organizations and associations, partnering with some of the biggest industrial, construction, and real estate events, among others. Another important actor in this relationship and the overall development of the city is ProBarranquilla. Over the last 12 years, it has transformed from a city with a budget of COP700 million to one with over COP3 billion. In that sense, the role of Puerta de Oro has been fundamental in providing Barranquilla with a long-term vision and developing and structuring important projects.



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