“We have a tremendous opportunity”


More national members and a more active voice of Portugal in the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) are the goals of Jorge Vinha da Silva, Altice Arena CEO, as he took over the vice presidency of the Iberian Chapter.

We talked to Jorge Vinha da Silva, elected vice-president of a board led by Cristoph Tessmar, director of the Barcelona Convention Bureau. He took office at the last annual meeting, which took place in Porto. The list also includes Portuguese Alexandra Ramos, Algarve Tourism Bureau MI Senior Manager.

Jorge Vinha da Silva faces this challenge with great enthusiasm and believes that Portugal can and should make better use of these institutional channels. “We all do our best to boost our businesses and look for opportunities, but there are a lot of things, and especially considering the leverage effect that I really believe business can bring, which has to do with our positioning as a destination, as a country. And I’ve always noticed when I am present in these forums that we are not so well organised from the collective point of view, that is, pulling everyone to the same side, or at least as much as our competitors are. My mission is obviously to boost the global, but also Portugal and this active militancy that I think is beneficial for everyone”.

In the Iberian Chapter board, the Altice Arena CEO is responsible, among other things, for membership. And then the main goal is to push for the representativeness of Portugal, in what is seen as the "Super Chapter", since it has three cities in the world top six: Madrid (3rd), Barcelona (4th) and Lisbon (6th). “We need a collective effort to call for militancy, for participation,” says Vinha da Silva, and this is one of the main purposes of this new leadership, “trying to get the message of benefits through, also with the aim of attracting more members to this collective positioning”. And the stronger the Portuguese representation is, the stronger the Chapter will be.

These benefits, Jorge Vinha da Silva assumes, have to be seen in the medium and long term, and "will depend on the action of each of us." “If with the relevance we have today in business tourism we collectively understand that it makes no sense to have a strong representation in a very important business segment [the association one], then it's all wrong, because it's exactly at ICCA meetings, and in the Iberian Chapter, that we can really change the guidelines of the organisation, understand how the future will be, how to capture more business, how to promote each destination”, he underlines. The vice president believes that not being present at these forums is not a solution to anything, and that “we have a tremendous opportunity because we are in a chapter with only two countries, both of which are very strong in terms of results. We just have not been able to translate that into representativeness, to share our associations ideas, our entrepreneurs, and this is the right channel, we have no other way to do it.” In recent months, two new Portuguese members have joined, DMC Osiris, and Altice Forum Braga, Vinha da Silva revealed.

The elected board also intends to increase interaction between members, and that it goes beyond the annual meeting and meetings at industry fairs. “As Portugal's representativeness has to be increased, we are already working on na action dedicated exclusively to current Portuguese members, but also to attract new ones, still during this year” Jorge Vinha da Silva anticipates. At annual meetings, they will continue to focus on the quality of content and networking, but with more emphasis on the business, and how to help the associate evolve accordingly.

At the last meeting in Porto, a new formula for meeting rotation was decided. From next year on, it will happen two years in Spain, one year in Portugal, and so on. For the CEO of Altice Arena, this translates into practice the “weak investment on this institutional and collective path”. “Spain is a bigger market than Portugal, but this is further aggravated by the little representativeness or the little investment that even entities that are already members make in this associative segment. So if we ever want to reverse this, we have to do it the other way around, not by imposition.” On the other hand, Vinha da Silva recalls that it was difficult to find destinations of interest in Portugal. "If we strengthen our position as a destination, of course these long-term measures will reverse."


Cláudia Coutinho de Sousa