Istanbul has hosted many important and large-scale international congresses and events during the last 10 years, with the city ranking 1st in the world for large conventions of more than 500 delegates, 2nd in the world (joint with Paris) for conventions of more than 300 delegates, and 8th in Europe and 9th in the world for the number of meetings held in the city in 2011 (113 meetings that year).* So the city can now confidently claim to be a major new MICE destination for the world when compared to its position of 40th place in the world in 2000. Notable past events include the UN-Habitat 2 Conference (1996), NATO Istanbul Summit (2004) and the World Bank Group / IMF Boards of Governors Annual Meetings (2009).
The city has seven purpose-built conference centres large enough to accommodate even the largest fairs, with Istanbul being able to host more than 30,000 people with 4000 rooms within walking distance. As well as 78,861 guest rooms and 94 five-star and deluxe hotels, there are another 20,000 new rooms being added over the next two years, so Istanbul offers meeting planners a variety of options.
The only city in the world to straddle two continents, Turkey’s fabled city of Istanbul is the historic crossroads between East and West, a city of minarets and palaces and the perfect choice for hosting events and incentives, with historical venues even being used. Istanbul cradles the wonders of the Ottoman and Byzantine empires, from the breathtaking Topkapi Palace to the majestic Hagia Sophia, with other must-see sights including the unique Byzantine frescoes of the Kariye Museum, the Ottoman architect Sinan’s masterpiece the Suleymaniye Mosque and the Genoese Galata Tower with its panoramic views of the whole city.
Istanbul is a city whose infrastructure is being upgraded rapidly: the Marmaray Tunnel running under the Bosphorus linking the European and Asian shores of the city opens later this year while the tender is out for a third international airport which aims to be the largest in the world and a hub for the region.