“If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.” Napoleon Bonaparte
How fascinating that even centuries later as we scan the pages of The Lonely Planet and slowly immerse ourselves into the charms of this city, we can still relate to Napoleon’s admiration for the invincible… Istanbul. One of the world’s most ancient cities. Rich history. Magnificent resources. Now, admittedly, that’s straight out of a guide book, copied word for word. But did you know that Istanbul is the only city in the world that stands in two different continents, Europe and Asia? Most people think of it as Asian, but really, the historic center is on the European part of town. It’s the Bosphorus that divides the two continents and joins the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. Now, how’s that for a little Turkey-basted trivia?
Give it up for Istanbul. The former capital of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires has risen again, conveniently, right into our hands. In 2011 and 2012, Istanbul was deemed the world’s most popular congress city. And by the way, it’s NOT the capital, Ankara is – and has been since 1923. But Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey with over 12 million people, who I’m convinced are always outside in the street.
Is this the reason Istanbul is a popular hotspot for international meetings? Is it the city’s ability to blend historic cultural treasures with modern infrastructure? Maybe it’s the charm and hospitality of the Turkish people? If you combine the two and add 5-star accommodations and outstanding conference and exhibition facilities, Istanbul reigns supreme, the formidable Turkish Delight.
For Professional Conference Organizers (PCOs), Istanbul has fast become the destination of choice and a preferred venue for long-term clients in and around the city’s Taksim Square. Istanbul’s appeal came into the fore at last year’s PICC, the 7th World Congress on Paediatric Intensive and Critical Care, held at the Istanbul Congress Center (ICC) in May. PICC welcomed over 2,000 delegates after earlier PICC events in the likes of Sydney, Geneva, Boston, Montreal, and Rotterdam. Clearly, Istanbul made this oh-so-very-VIP list.
PICC was just one of hundreds of conferences in Istanbul last year. In addition to the famed ICC, praised for its lavish ambiance and design, the Haliç Congress Center (HCC) is coming up the ranks. The luxurious HCC is on the shores of the Golden Horn estuary opening into the Bosphorus. The HCC is the only congress center in Istanbul by the seashore with a view of the historic peninsula of Istanbul.
So it came as no surprise when ICCA, the International Congress and Convention Association, hosted the 53rd ICCA Congress in Antalya last year. Pulling out all the stops, the event was held at the Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort & Spa and Susesi Hotel, who combined their venues and services to wow their guests.
The bottom line? Istanbul is not just about the Blue Mosque anymore. It’s become the PCO’s new best friend. One thing we know for sure, that for societies, associations and organizations, all roads now lead to… Istanbul. For PCOs, we will simply draw on the city’s ability to create lasting relationships with our clients and when they say “Istanbul?” – we will reply… “Evet biz!” (“Yes we can!”).