Eurochile concludes successful execution of project to transform the Antofagasta Region into an international destination for business tourism
Since June 2020, a team from the Foundation has worked with Corfo and Antofagasta companies to create a strategy for positioning the region globally. An experience that had to be adapted to the restrictions of the pandemic, but which was highly valued by its participants, both for the knowledge acquired and for the support of the expert vision provided by European professionals.
After almost 10 months of work, Eurochile Business Foundation concludes the execution of the project “Nodo de Internationalizacion Turismo MICE Antofagasta”, which began in June 2020 as a pilot project of renewal of the tourism sector through the dissemination and transfer of European experience during the global coronavirus pandemic. The objective is not only to make the region an attractive destination for conventions and other professional events, but it also aims to jointly promote Antofagasta as a destination for meeting tourism.
Known internationally as MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions / Events), and unlike tourism for leisure or pleasure, this type of travel is motivated by events organised for professional reasons. And during the execution of the project – carried out jointly with Corfo Antofagasta and Gedes – several milestones were completed to achieve all the proposed objectives, despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic that forced to take full advantage of virtual work alternatives.
“The main achievements are related to the ability of entrepreneurs and the capacity to work together. Meeting tourism requires many services, and a collaborative and articulated work is necessary to reach demanding clients”, explains José Aravena, executive director of Eurochile .
“This involved – he adds – carrying out training sessions, work meetings, analysis of offer and demand, international contacts, participation in an international virtual fair, and business planning and commercial strategies. Although the pandemic has hit the sector hard, we hope that in the near future the tourism companies that participated in the project will be more prepared to work jointly and organize business events, both national and international”.
To promote the work of these companies, the project had a training stage with Chilean, Latin American and European experts; an organisation phase of a collaborative structure; the realisation of business and marketing plan proposals; the compilation of data on regional offer of services and potential clients, as well as the realisation of individual consultancies to improve their services with the support of Spanish experts.
In this context, the companies had also the possibility to upload profiles to the international Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) to search for partners and expertise in Europe; the design of materials such as a promotional video, logo and brochure; participation in virtual international fair and brokerage event; and a communications strategy with digital publishing.
Support from European experts
“We worked directly with European experts in business tourism. They contributed their experience in the execution of events, organisation, marketing, alliances with local authorities, tourism quality standards and protocols that were established in Europe so that the sector could adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic”, explains José Aravena.
In this regard, the executive director of Eurochile highlights that through exhibitions in seminars, virtual visits to each of the companies and meetings with regional authorities, “the project had the valuable contribution of two Spanish experts: Raúl García López , former director of the Madrid Convention Bureau, the Oviedo Convention Bureau and the Madrid Promotion Congress Department; founder of aprendedeturismo.org; Carlota Herrera, director of operations at Kenes Group Spain, part of the Kenes Group, a multinational company specialised in organising conferences”.
For Luis Alberto Gaete, regional director of the Corfo Antofagasta Committee, “having foreign experts was very important, mainly because of their experience and because they were ‘ahead’ in the advance of the pandemic, so they could inform of the actions they were taking which was very essential for the business group”.
This, he explains, because the health crisis has affected tourism worldwide, being one of the productive sectors with the greatest losses. “We are hopeful that the reactivation will arrive soon, that travel and events can be carried out, especially since the region is an important point for at least four major industries worldwide, and MICE tourism companies have prepared for the new normal that it will accompany us for years, and that will allow them to attend tourists in the best way, “he says.
In this sense, says the regional executive of Corfo, “this project strengthens the work that began with the Business Tourism PTI and that this group of companies took to incorporate new tools that allow them to consolidate in the sector. In addition, the project managed to deliver new tools, incorporate them into the international segments of MICE tourism and update them just at the right time. We envision that the industry after this pandemic is going to grow again at the rate it was doing before 2020, and regions like Antofagasta could monopolize a special percentage of the segment”.
In the success of this project, adds José Aravena, the role of the partners was key. “Corfo Antofagasta, in addition to providing financing for the project, collaborated in the dissemination of activities, gave support and advice on promotion materials and participated in meetings, workshops and seminars. Among the public sector, the contribution of SERNATUR was very important. They provided contact information, tourist information, contact networks and material.
The experience of the participating companies
For the companies participating in the project, the experience allowed them to understand in greater depth what a Nodo MICE means, as well as the challenges and opportunities that arise, says Mary Paz Herrejón, general manager of Envision Consultores.
“It helped us to understand and know how to manage it, how to undertake it, how to develop it and put it into practice. It was an experience that is very useful because I did not have a better understanding of what a Nodo MICE was, and I did not know how business tourism works in Chile,”she adds.
In this regard, Alicia Reyes, manager of the Convention Bureau Antofagasta (ACB), affirms that after ending this project, “as ACB we have acquired relevant knowledge in order to better promote our destination -Antofagasta. Likewise, I believe that the associativity generated between the companies in this initiative is essential to deliver proposals in accordance with what the MICE market requires at a national and international level, since we have a varied offer of services and with the own standards that this sector demands”.
In that sense, she adds, “the project has allowed us to be all aligned with the concepts and purposes of MICE. It allows us to have better coordination and collaboration between local service providers in order delivery our proposals adapting them to the needs of the clients. In this context, we will be having greater possibilities of realizing of events in our region with the benefit for the companies associated with to the project”.
Regarding the most relevant activities of the project, Mary Paz Herrejón highlights that “the workshops were the ones that helped me the most. The workshop given by Carlota Herrera gave me many ideas and advice to position myself. I hope with all my heart that all this common effort can be successful and make Antofagasta a world destination for MICE tourism”.
In this regard, Alicia Reyes affirms that each activity carried out within the framework of the project was highly valued, as there were always interesting tips to acquire. “Being aware of the experience of other destinations with greater experience is always interesting to know. In this sense, the technical visits and advice carried out by the Spanish experts Raúl García, with vast experience in the Convention Bureaus of Madrid and Oviedo, and Carlota Herrera, director of operations of the OPC Kenes Group, were very attractive. Spain is one of the world leaders in the MICE industry, so everything they contributed to us during their speeches was very well received and valued by us”.