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The Warsaw Voice » Business » January 30, 2008
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Congress Organizers Meet
January 30, 2008   
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Over 150 delegates gathered in Warsaw Jan. 15 to take part in the third annual congress of the European Federation of Associations of Professional Congress Organizers (EFAPCO). Entitled "Tomorrow is Today," the event was a quantum leap for the federation in terms of congress arrangements and content of the sessions.

"We have come a long way in just three years," said EFAPCO President Julio Abreu. "And we now seem to be regarded as a serious-minded and highly professional organization, helping raise professional standards among PCOs and consolidating Europe's position as the world's leading conference destination. The superb facilities offered by Warsaw in general and by the InterContinental Hotel in particular also provided a great showcase of what Poland can now offer for international business events."

Some 20 countries were represented at the congress, including the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Russia, the Netherlands, and Turkey, plus Canada and Algeria-along with some 40 EFAPCO members from the federation's nine member states.

The event attracted 15 international media organizations and a strong showing by the Polish trade and business press.

One of the most significant features of this year's event was the number of travel and tourism students from Poland who took an active part in the congress. "Poland's comparatively young conference industry is investing heavily in its future development, not least because of the number of students who joined us for the business sessions," said Abreu. "That was a fantastically encouraging aspect of our event, and I know they will have learned a great deal from a list of speakers representing the World Tourism Organization, the Finland Convention Bureau, the Professional Associations Research Network, international bodies dedicated to developing Europe-wide professional standards, international trade exhibitions like IMEX, EFAPCO board members and a great lineup of Polish experts. It is little wonder that business tourism is currently one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Polish economy," he said.

The day before the congress, EFAPCO's general assembly approved the election of First Vice President Nicolas le Brun from Belgium as president for the next two years. When le Brun takes over in April, Abreu will become honorary president, and Irena Sokołowska from Poland will become first vice president.

The assembly heard that EFAPCO now represents 800 individual companies within the European meetings and conventions industry, including 300 PCOs.

Le Brun said EFAPCO's future development would focus on recruitment of new national associations of PCOs and encouragement of their development in countries that, at present, do not have their own associations. Recruitment of new associate members was an ongoing priority, together with further development of the federation's already active internal communications systems and marketing presence at Europe's leading industry trade shows.

The federation is also dedicated to further expansion of already well-developed links with the European Union and its various institutions, with the World Tourism Organization, with other meetings industry associations, and with European bodies working on professional certification systems.
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