About ten days ago, the executive director of Integrated Systems Europe (ISE), Mike Blackman, was asked about the possibility that this enterprise, the largest audiovisual sector fair in the world, which has been held in Barcelona since it left Amsterdam in 2020, might change its location, and he answered: "If we are successful in Barcelona, which we are, why should we go anywhere else?" The answer seems simple, but the important thing is that behind this alliance with the Catalan capital is hidden something that is perhaps less visible - yet which is fundamental: excellent cooperation with the trade fair organization Fira de Barcelona, the management team of which have managed to retain the world congress of the mobile phone industry, overcoming all kinds of difficult turbulence, and to stay alert to opportunities such as that of bringing the world's largest audiovisual fair to Barcelona.
Pau Relat as president and Constantí Serrallonga as general manager have impressed upon the Fira a professional management that has remained above the political turbulences that have been part and parcel of Catalan and Barcelona civic life in recent years. And moreover, often in competition with Madrid or with major European cities such as Frankfurt, London, Paris or Geneva. The recent ISE congress had an economic impact on the city worth close to 400 million euros, was a success for both multinationals and local firms, brought together approximately a thousand exhibiting companies - exceeding the 800 of last year - and put the spotlight on Barcelona for a few days as the European capital of the audiovisual sector. Blackman is right when he asks why should they go to another city when they are successful in Barcelona. This disposition must be used to definitively tie up the ISE, an event that has a continuous three-year contract with Barcelona. That is, in 2023 the commitment is for another three editions and in 2024 it will be for another three and so on if no one puts it in doubt.
In two weeks, Barcelona has an appointment with the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone conference. With the Mobile, something similar is happening to what Blackman referred to with the ISE and the success of the fair in Barcelona. With one difference: the Mobile landed in the Catalan capital from Cannes in 2006 and in that time has become a classic, and GSMA president John Hoffman, who has the rights to the show, hugely comfortable with Barcelona and having dismissed the siren songs of Madrid and other capitals. Many times, we Catalans don't give much importance to the things we have and it is good to highlight the significance of having the regular presence of two trade fairs of such global renown.
All this, without neglecting some of the Fira's classic proposals such as the food sector's Alimentària and the Auto show, and the new occasions that are being incorporated, at another dimension but equally important, reinforcing Barcelona's position on the trade fair map. An example of this is Barcelona Wine Week, held a few days ago. The first edition was in 2020, a few weeks before the pandemic, and this year it has attracted around 20,000 sector professionals from around 80 countries and more than 800 wineries, establishing itself as the great reference for wine on the Iberian peninsula with around 18,000 visitors.
It is not easy to carve out space in the international trade fair market, and it need to be recognized that Barcelona has done things right with a management team that is up to the task of the innumerable challenges that arise while turning the Catalan capital into a benchmark.