CineEurope, the annual convention for the European exhibition sector, is moving its venue from Amsterdam to Barcelona, where it will run June 18-21.

It was time for a change of scene, says Robert Sunshine, exec director of the event.

“Amsterdam was a great forum for us, but after being in a spot for 16 years it gets a little tired, and the feeling was that we should move to another city,” he says.

Some erstwhile attendees, he says, were put off by the thought of going back to the same place.

“Over the years, we probably lost 2%, 3% or 4% of our people, who’d say, ‘Argh, I’ve been to Amsterdam a dozen times, I’m not going to go this year,’ ” Sunshine says.

The search for a fresh venue had its challenges. A central element of the confab is the product presentations staged by the Hollywood studios, and that requires a convention center with an auditorium that could make a top-notch movie theater for up to 1,200 people.

This they found at CCIB, Barcelona’s international convention center, which is integrated into the city’s recently developed seafront area, Diagonal Mar.

Opened in 2004, CCIB is newer than the Dutch venue, RAI, which is 51 years old. Sunshine says its amenities are better and everything is under one roof. There are several major hotels, all recently constructed, within walking distance. “It’s going to be very simple and easy to access, and we have plenty of room there to grow,” he says.

Downtown Barcelona, 10-15 minutes away by metro, is an added attraction, with its fine restaurants, chic shopping district and up-tempo night-life.

“The feeling was that Barcelona is a wonderful city, and would attract people. Many of the companies that used to only bring four or five people, are bringing 10,” says Sunshine, who estimates that attendance is likely to be up 20% from last year. “I attribute that strictly to the city,” he says.

Last year the event changed its name, from CineExpo to CineEurope, and it was staged for the first time in partnership with UNIC, the European exhibitors’ union.

UNIC had its own relaunch last year, appointment a new CEO, Jan Runge, and moving its office from Paris to Brussels, at the heart of the European Union.

The change in CineEurope’s venue in some ways symbolizes a fresh start.

“For us, the move to Barcelona came at the right time,” Runge says. “We have gone through a significant phase of reform here at UNIC, and are looking to build our profile year on year. We wanted to show who we are, and that we have more involvement in the organization of the convention.

“In truth, few people demanded a move of the convention. Amsterdam had served the industry very well. But once we announced plans to relocate to Barcelona, everybody quickly became very excited. The move seems to have created additional momentum around the show,” he says.

The new venue’s location next to the Mediterranean and the warmer weather in Spain are an added bonus.

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