The cosmopolitan and tolerant Dutch were excellent hosts. Their capital city isn't far off from Germany and features a number of internationally renowned venues and notable sites. Amsterdam's hotel industry is diversified and affordable – Hilton actually maintains four operations in this city.
en wearing gray or black suits, ties, and selfimportant demeanor standing in small groups and engaged in hushed conversations. No laughing please! Knowledge transfer with a funnel. But that's how they made it through all kinds of examinations at medical school, so why should a typical medical congress look and proceed any differently. Anybody regularly attending physicians' get-togethers will have this picture in their head.
However, things looked entirely differently at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam from July 23 to 27 of this year. Colorful and cheerful, while some attendees looked ill. "That's because many affected individuals traveled here for knowledge transfer and to learn more about their disease," said Yipe de Jong. She's been working for Amsterdam's international exhibition and congress center RAI for the past eleven years. RAI stands for Rijwiel en Auto Industrie, the association of the bicycle and automobile industry (RAI Vereniging). This association is the largest shareholder in the expo complex, which encompasses eleven halls and 48 conference rooms on an expanse of 87,000 square meters. And this expanse is needed – the AIDS Conference is one of the largest medical congresses throughout the entire world. 18,000 scientists, activists, affected persons and politicians discussed options and methods for treating this immune deficiency disease.
This world's largest expert symposium on HIV and AIDS is aimed at 'Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges'. Yipe de Jong also considered this congress to be so fascinating, because so many destitute persons attended, also in the 'Positive Lounge', which was reserved exclusively for HIV-positive persons. Anne Gutmann was one of altogether 800 volunteers who helped with organization of the conference. At the entrance to the Positive Lounge, she handed out food vouchers worth €12 each. The funds for catering had been donated
by the delegates, who were all asked during the registration process to make a small donation. Visitors to the lounge were served fruit, juice, sandwiches and snacks. Cozy beds were arranged in a tent; there were exhausted delegates in deep slumber recharging their batteries. "You couldn't find another congress like this," said Anne Gutmann. Hilary Kema headed the media center, where she and her force of 50 volunteers attended to 800 registered journalists. Most of these were present on Monday, which was also owed to the celebrity line-up including British popstar Elton John, who had traveled here together with Prince Harry and Bill Clinton for the opening of the International AIDS Conference. Elton John showed himself very annoyed with political leadership in Eastern Europe: in Russia, for instance, where there is considerable discrimination against homosexuals, it's almost impossible for these to have access to sterile needles or medication. This was confirmed by a UN spokesperson. In Russia alone, there were approximately 100,000 new HIV infections this past year. Elton John and British Prince Harry launched a new initiative addressed at young men in Africa. The initiative is designed to encourage these to have their blood tested and to have safer sex.
A surprise guest at the event was Austrian singer and drag artist Conchita, who has discontinued using her last name Wurst. The bearded women, who had won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014, disclosed to the public that she, too, is HIV positive. Conchita stated that she has been taking medication since she was diagnosed with the disease, and these keep the virus so far under the detection level that she is unable to pass it on. "You can touch, kiss and love me like anybody else in this world," Conchita told the cheering 8,000-headed audience in Hall 12 of the Amsterdam Conference center.
At the press conference Elton John showed himself annoyed with Eastern Europe: In Russia homosexuals are discriminated. PHOTO: INTERNATIONAL AIDS SOCIETY, ROB HUIBERS
ROTTERDAM AHOY CONVENTION CENTRE IM BAU
Rotterdam ist mit etwa 650.000 Einwohnern nach Amsterdam die zweitgrößte Stadt der Niederlande. Sie hat den größten Seehafens Europas, ist ein bedeutender Verkehrsknotenpunkt – und eine Empfehlung für ein ungewöhnliches Meeting. „Rotterdam ist eine junge dynamische Großstadt, die sich rasant entwickelt“ sagt Mark de Jong, Account Manager Business Events beim Rotterdam Partner Convention Bureau. „Wir haben einen unpolierten Charme und eine sich ständig verändernde Skyline.“ Seit mehr als 40 Jahren ist das Rotterdam Ahoy Bühne für Live Kommunikation, Business-Events und Unterhaltung. Das Kongress- und Meeting Zentrum hat sechs Ausstellungs- und Messe-Hallen. Die Ahoy Arena ist das größte multifunktionale Venue im Rotterdamer Zuid District. Die Kapazität reicht von 2 bis 11.300 Personen. Außerdem ist das Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre (RACC) im Bau. Seine Türen werden sich zum ersten Mal Ende 2020 öffnen. Dieses neue, internationale Tagungszentrum wird zusätzliche 35 Tagungsräume sowie ein Auditorium mit 2.750 Sitzen haben, welche vollständig versenkbar sind. Ohne Bestuhlung wird das Auditorium Platz für 7.000 Personen haben. Das neue RACC wird komplett in die bereits bestehende Struktur des Ahoy integriert. Seine Flexibilität des Auditoriums erlaubt es, tagsüber eine Konferenz und am gleichen Abend eine Theater-Produktion oder ein Konzert auf der Bühne planen zu können. Vom kleinen Meeting oder Training, über eine Messe bis zur Tagung mit tausenden Gästen: das Postillion Convention Centre im Herzen von Rotterdam ist an das World Trade Center angegliedert. Modernste Tagungstechnik und stilvolle Räume machen dieses Wahrzeichen von Rotterdam aus.
The applause subsided when the spokespersons of various relief agencies emphasized that AIDS has not by far been defeated. Every year, almost one million persons all over the world die of AIDS, and this only because they haven't the money to buy proper medication. Those fortunate ones living in countries with healthcare systems covering daily antiretroviral therapy have the same life expectancy as non-affected persons. This medication represses the HI-virus in patients' bodies and prevents onset of the immune deficiency disease AIDS.
Following the opening conference, four Germans, all of which were wearing an AIDS ribbon and who acknowledged belonging to the group of affected persons, enjoyed a beer to celebrate their reunion in the Grand Café just outside the RAI Complex. They had an on-going spirited discussion on which of the waiters looked best. "Amsterdam is certainly one of the most tolerant cities in the world," said Geerte Udo. "This is because we've been conducting trade with the entire world for centuries." She's a Marketing Associate with Amsterdam Marketing and wants to provide meeting planners with arguments in favor of staging congresses, events or incentives in the Dutch capital.
The Hilton Amsterdam might be one of these arguments. Beatles fans can book the exact suite in which John Lennon and Yoko Ono some 40 years ago protested for peace by staying in bed for one week – covered by press cameras from all over the world. The suite is available at €1,700 per night. At the edge of the hotel's garden, visitors may climb aboard one of the old wooden boats cruising the city's signature canals to marvel at Amsterdam's notable sights. Skipper Mareijke inherited her wooden boat from her grandmother; passengers are greeted with a Heineken beer, after which the boat takes off for a trip along the city's 100-km waterway system.
The Aids Conference, one of the largest medical congresses in the world, took place at RAI Amsterdam. PHOTO: RAI
Those planners seeking to stage concerts as well as grand weddings or gala dinners won't get around The Royal Concertgebouw. The seating may be removed from the concert halls/rooms.
The Amsterdam Conference Center is probably the Dutch capital's best conference facility. Marcel Schonenberg heads the 150-year-old exchange, which was privatized ten years ago and features 24 rooms. Schonenberg is confident that "we have the ultimate 5-star conference room for any purpose." In 2002, Argentine-born Maxima and Prince Willem- Alexander tied the nuptial knot amidst grand fanfare in the Grote Saal.
A new hotel in Karim Rashid-Design opened just recently: the Park Inn by Radisson City West has 476 rooms and suites. A 680-sqm two-story ballroom with separate conference zone and balcony can accommodate up to 750 persons in theater-style seating, making the Radisson one of Europe's largest convention hotels. Moreover, there are 19 meeting rooms with three linked pre-conference zones available.
The Adam Tower boasts a spectacular view on Amsterdam. The former Shell-Europe headquarters building was vacant for quite some time and today, among other things, features a fancy revolving restaurant at a height of 100 meters. THOMAS GRETHER