INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Costa Blanca tenders for meetings business

The Costa Blanca Convention Bureau (CBCB) is targeting the UK as part of its first marketing push.

The initial stage of the campaign took place at the Spanish Tourism Exchange for Professionals (STEPS) exhibition last month at London's Royal Horticultural Halls. The CBCB will also be exhibiting at World Travel Market later this year, and Confex in 2003. Other initiatives include fam trips and further unspecified activity.

"The Costa Blanca receives very little C&I business at the moment,

said CBCB spokesman Mar Lopez. "But there is interest for meetings here so we created the convention bureau last January. There is good infrastructure to handle congresses and hotel capacities are increasing. The Costa Blanca also has good weather all year."

The CBCB is highlighting developments in the area. Work is to start later this year on a dedicated congress centre for up to 1,000 delegates in Benidorm.

Benidorm City Hall spokesman Maria Jose Montiel said: "50% of tourism in Benidorm comes from the UK, but that has been almost all from the leisure sector. "Last December, the first hotel in Benidorm to offer a large congress hall, the Melia Benidorm, opened, and since then we have had three congresses."

Two further venues are also set to open. The 776-room Gran Hotel Bali opens this month, and claims to be Europe's tallest hotel at 186 metres.

Its largest meeting space is the Crystal Palace for 1,000 banquet-style, and 11 other meeting spaces are available.

The Mediterraneo hotel is expected to be completed at the beginning of 2004 and will have 350 rooms and banqueting space for up to 200.

The three congress clients Benidorm has so far pulled in are the Spanish Press Association, with 200 delegates, Napalie Tours for 300, and a management conference for El Corte Ingles for 150.

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