By Lois Jones
PALMA is now one of the members of Spain's Convention Bureau (SCB), which promotes and oversees the organisation of conferences and specialist group tourism. As of yesterday, its new executive committee is made up of representives from Santiago de Compostela, Barcelona, Sitges, Palma, Toledo and Gijón.
The confirmation was made following a meeting of the group which is a branch of a Spanish Districts Federation representing 23 towns. It is headed up by its president, and mayor of Alicante, Luís Díaz Alperi. On the occasion of his participation in the organisation's annual general meeting, the Tourist director, Germán Porras, took the opportunity to declare that the Association for International Congresses and Conventions, describes Spain as the second world leader in terms of organisation of professional tourism. Porras was speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the Spain Convention Burea held in Santiago de Compostela.
The Tourism director pointed to the positive growth of this sector in Spain, where business tourism represents 10 percent of the sector's total, some 3'000 million euros in 2002, in direct costs alone. He commented that the ability “to manage so ably” this particular area of tourism, has resulted in Spain ranking second only to the United States in world ratings. Porras relayed how Spain is currently “riding out” a difficult moment in the life of its tourist industry and how he believed wholeheartedly in the importance of collaboration between the different branches “to meet the hardening demands of international tourism”. He reported that central government funding, in spite of the sector's “limited growth” figures, will support tourist promotion with a budget that will have increased by some 13 percent in 2004, climbing from 91 to 104 million euros. Of the self-governing communities of Spain, Porras informed that Catalonia occupies Spain's first place in terms of professional conference tourism, followed by Andalucia and Madrid. Galicia accounts for 3.5 percent of the number of meetings held at a national level and for 6.5 percent of conference participants. He signalled furthermore, that 3.5 percent of the meetings organised in Spain during 2002 took place in Santiago de Compostela. Porras related that of the total of congresses and meetings which took part in Spain, 21.6 percent are attributable to foreign instigation, while the remainder, some 78.4 percent, had a national focus. When asked what his support would be in 2004 for the Festival of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela, Porras claimed that his department would go “all out” to ensure the success of the occasion. After detailing the budget of Galicia, along with those of the communities that are affected by the Pilgrims route to Santiago de Compostela, he explained “we will continue to strengthen such infrastructure, because it is our foremost route of cultural tourism”.

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