Under the theme ‘Tourism: The Smile Industry’ the 26th edition of BTL - Lisbon International Tourism Fair, which takes place from 12 to 16 March at FIL (Parque das Nações), pays tribute to hospitality, friendliness and the art of welcoming, one of the strengths of national tourism, in an event where the Meeting Industry (MI) segment and the Hosted Buyers programme have special focus.
Promoted by the AIP Foundation, through AIP - Fairs, Conferences and Events, which this year made an overall investment of 1 million euros in the organisation of the exhibition, BTL 2014 will be attended by more than 1,000 companies and organisations, of which about 100 will be present for the first time. In this year’s event, the organisation aims to exceed the 65,000 visitors that attended the 2013 event.
Occupying an area of 30,000 m2, BTL is held in 3 pavilions and an outdoor area. Pavilion 1 is for the entities promoting national tourism - regional directorates and entities, as well as centres from north to south and from the islands. Municipalities, accommodation offers and services are represented in Pavilion 2. In this pavilion, the space dedicated to gastronomic tourism will not go unnoticed. This is one of the bulwarks of national tourism, both for the diversity of flavours and combinations so typical of each region and for the high quality of the products used in preparation, completed with the famous Portuguese wines and traditional desserts.
The international area, with operators, distributors, entertainment and services, is in Pavilion 3, where 30 destinations will be represented: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Macau, Morocco, Mozambique, the Dominican Republic, São Tomé, Taipei, Tunisia, Turkey, Andalusia, Formentera, São Paulo, Andorra, Dubai, the USA, Russia.
This year, Austria, Malaysia, Panama, Amazonas, Gramado, Vitória, Pará, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Philippines will be attending BTL for the first time.
The first two days of BTL are reserved for professionals in the tourism sector, but the exhibition will also be open to the general public on 14 March, from 6 pm.
At a time when many Portuguese start planning their holidays, participating companies take advantage of their participation to promote Easter campaigns and to anticipate Summer offers, through exclusive BTL campaigns. During the weekend, visitors have personalised service and have access to prices, promotions and special offers, which in some cases can be up to 70% off.
Hosted Buyers Programme already has 400 entries
With an estimated 2,500 foreign professionals expected to attend and more than 2,500 professional meetings expected to be held during the event, BTL will once again be focusing strongly on its foreign buyers programme.
The Hosted Buyers programme, organised by BTL in partnership with Turismo de Portugal and TAP Portugal, aims to attract international buyers specifically interested in the Portugal destination. So far, 400 Hosted Buyers are confirmed from various segments, coming from markets as diverse as Germany, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Spain, the USA, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Poland, the UK, the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland.
State of Amazonas and Azores are the guest destinations at the 26th BTL
Reflecting its focus on the theme of sustainability and ecotourism, a tourism segment that has been showing increasing demand - according to the World Tourism Organisation, the global growth of green travel is between 15 to 25% per year - the Guest National Destination at this year’s 26th BTL will be the Azores region.
The State of Amazonas, the largest Brazilian Federal State, is the Guest International Destination. The participation of the State of Amazonas will feature some well-known attractions, as is the case of the shows with the bulls, Caprichoso and Garantido. Its presence will be also marked by the presentation of the first ecological soccer ball produced with rubber from the Amazon rainforest, the Caramuri EcoBall.
Note that this year the Brazil destination will be represented by several States on an independent basis.
Meeting Industry booming at BTL
As BTL is the largest national tourism fair and the largest international Portuguese Language exhibition (10 billion km2 of Portuguese Language tourism) and a privileged meeting point for CPLP tourism, the major focus of this year’s BTL will be the Meeting Industry segment. This line has contributed to increased offers from new exhibitors at the fair, such as operators and hotels, particularly from Brazil.
CPLP and Latin America Business Forums on the BTL Conferences agenda
Of the conferences scheduled for the professional public, the organisation of BTL 2014 will be highlighting the I Forum of Business and Tourism Investments in the CPLP, a joint initiative of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), which has the support of the Secretary of State for Tourism in Portugal and the Lisbon Tourism Fair (BTL), and the Latin America Forum, an event organized by IPDAL and BTL which will bring Ambassadors from Latin America and tourism entrepreneurs and official Portuguese entities together to promote the Portugal destination and the development of synergies.
The 26th Lisbon International Tourism Fair will be organising the BTL Blogger Travel Awards 2014 for the first time. These are designed to reward the best travelblogs in Portugal and in the Portuguese language which stood out in 2013.
The awards comprise four categories: Best Personal Travel Blog, Best Professional Travel Blog, Best Travel Photography Blog and Best Travel Blog Elected by the Public.
Along with the prizes for best travel blogs sponsored by BTL, on the 12th the fair will host the award ceremony for the Publituris Portugal Trade Awards.
All in all, in this the fourth year of the awards from Publituris magazine, there are 13 categories, including the Best Cruise Company, Best GSA Aviation or Best Space for Events.
BTL supports Start-ups and SMEs
In 2014, BTL is also seeking to establish itself as a reference business platform for all start-ups and SMEs linked to the tourism sector and that want to make their products and services known.
This year, BTL has launched a programme of special conditions for start-ups in the tourism area that are less than a year old and that have up to two workers, preferably residing in business incubators. This measure at BTL 2014 is aimed at welcoming new micro-enterprises, in the services and tourist facilities area, with very favourable conditions.
BTL Club exclusive for exhibitors and sector professionals
BTL - International Tourism Fair - set up the BTL Club in order to create more dynamics between theplayers in the sector, providing a unique opportunity to discuss and conduct business, explore new markets and attract new customers, share experiences and to learn about new work tools.
The BTL Club is reserved for BTL exhibitors from all sectors and professional visitors in the tourism sector with a direct influence on buying or purchasing in the following areas: Tour Operators, Travel Agents, Organisers of Congresses and events, Organisers of business and incentives programmes, Online Tour Operators and the Media.
BTL Club members have free access to BTL every day of the Fair and can bring a guest on days open to the general public. They also have access to the BTL Lounge - a space reserved for cardholders.