Legacy Lights the Path for 2021 Global Conferences in Madrid

BestCities Global Forum returns to a live format in Madrid, Spain (December 2-5), along with several international congresses – including World Blindness Summit, European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) and Sociedad Española de Prótesis Estomatológical y Estética (SEPES) – whose varying interests are united by a common goal: establishing legacy, or leaving a long-lasting impact on the host destination and the general public.

Based in Madrid, the local hosts for these conferences are already planning legacy projects designed to positively impact the global community and boost the reputation of the meetings industry as a vehicle for change.

The host city announcement for the 2021 BestCities Global Forum was made at the hybrid 2020 event. Delegates were treated to a virtual tour of Madrid that offered a tantalizing taste of the capital city’s buzzy vibe, cultural landmarks and sprawling greenspaces (see below to learn more about Madrid). The forum also featured a panel of three Madrid-based hosts, along with Madrid Convention Bureau’s David Noack Perez, whose associations will convene in their home city this year. Throughout the lively presentation, each host discussed the legacies their conferences will leave in the community and the world.

Why legacy?

While the economic legacy of meetings is undoubtedly important for the host city and its citizens, the concept of “legacy” extends far beyond financial revenues. Establishing connections with the community, embracing sustainability, and connecting the public with conference education and offerings are all key considerations for associations eager to leave a positive impact. Whether helping to paint daycares, planting trees or establishing an annual marathon to promote ongoing wellness, there are countless ways conferences can make their mark through legacy.

Measuring legacy

While planning and executing legacy projects are important steps for any congress organizer, measuring their impact is equally important to track progress toward the association’s vision and provide proven evidence on the value of meetings and their contributions to society. BestCities recently released the report “Advancing Event Legacies through Impact Measurement” to help associations and destinations approach and measure their legacies strategically, including a framework for meeting legacy measurement, identifying milestones and a process for validation.

Case studies: upcoming legacy projects in Madrid

The European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) – taking place August 27-31, 2021 at IFEMA (Feria de Madrid) – will host a hybrid event featuring Europe’s biggest industry exhibition of radiation oncology. Dedicated to promoting radiation oncology as a core component of multidisciplinary cancer care, the congress advocates for a legacy of alleviating apprehension among the Spanish population towards radiation therapy – which involves beams of intense energy meticulously destroying cancer cells – by promoting recent breakthroughs, research findings and analyses about the therapy’s numerous benefits for cancer patients. For the upcoming congress, ESTRO launched a website dedicated to dispelling myths and offering transparency, with the goal of eradicating fears to save lives. “This legacy project is a big reason we were able to bring ESTRO to Madrid,” said Dr. Natalia Carballo, head of Radiation Oncology Service at MD Anderson Cancer Center. “It’s wonderful that legacy has been brought to the forefront as a factor in winning bids.”

The World Blindness Summit is taking place June 28-30, 2021. It was meant to be held in Madrid but has since announced it will be fully conducted online. They have identified a longstanding impact on responsible tourism as part of their intended legacy. The largest international conference on visual disability, the Summit – organized by World Blind Union (WBU), International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) and ONCE Social Group – is attended by more than 1,500 blind and low-vision people from 193 countries. The conference involves sharing experiences, setting priorities and identifying strategies to achieve a “new vision of blindness” that ensure people with disabilities can participate in all aspects of society. Through research, education and dialogue with delegates the 2021 World Blindness Summit aims to cultivate more accessible cities, leading to a future where people with physical and cognitive disabilities will travel and explore without barriers. “Progress in accessibility is very much tied to innovation and responsible tourism. If a city isn’t accessible for everyone, it isn’t a smart city,” said Fernando Riaño, vice president of the WBU.

Finally, Sociedad Española de Prótesis Estomatológical y Estética (SEPES) takes place October 9-11, 2021 at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos de Madrid, with a practical legacy plan that will bring Madrid citizens into the city centre for free dental checkups. “As a scientific society, we work for our patients. It would have been a pity not to offer this service to the public during our 2021 event in Madrid,” said Guillermo Pradies, president of the SEPES Congress. By supporting citizens who might not otherwise be able to access dental treatments, SEPES hopes to inspire fellow scientific conferences to share knowledge and resources directly with host communities.

David Noack Perez, Fernando Riaño, Guillermo Pradies, Dr. Natalia Carballo

BestCities in Madrid

In 2021, BestCities’ Global Forum will come full circle from its digital tour of Madrid with delegates embarking on a real-life city tour after a year of limited travel. A bastion for meeting organizers and delegates, Madrid is situated just 13 kilometres from Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas, one of Europe’s most well-connected airports with 200 direct flights connecting the city to more than 70 countries. Once arrived, attendees will find a wealth of impressive MICE venues, centrally located hotels and expansive sightseeing opportunities demonstrating why Madrid is consistently ranked among the top 10 destinations in the world for conference tourism. As always, planners and delegates are advised to follow the latest travel restrictions while travelling to, and within, Spain.

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