Kristina Milinčić, general director of the Sava Center - Belgrade can host the most demanding events with several thousand participants

Source: eKapija Wednesday, 13.03.2024. 18:09
After the reconstruction, the Sava Center merged the old aesthetic values into a fresh, modern ambience. The renovation worth EUR 118 million, which lasted less than two years, produced a sustainable, energy-efficient and technologically modern facility, with a significantly increased capacity - for more than 5,000 participants. Right after the opening, on November 14, the big International Congress of Nutritionists was held here.

We talked with Kristina Milinčić, general director of the Sava Center, about the importance of the Sava Center for congress tourism, expectations from the Blue Hall and plans for the future.

The reconstructed Sava Center was opened last November. What are the first business results? Are the expectations met?

- We welcomed the opening of the congress and business section with a well-filled calendar. On the opening day, the "European congress on nutrition" (FENS) was held with over 1,500 participants. We were determined for Belgrade to host this congress, which is why the reconstruction work was completed within the planned period. In order to be able to meet all the requirements of modern events, more than 120 million euros were invested in the Sava Center. It is one of the largest and most significant investments of Delta Holding.

Since its opening on November 14, Sava Center has hosted over 60 different events of the most prestigious companies: Delhaize, NLB Komercijalna banka, Porsche, Mercator, Roche, Visa, A1, Banca Intesa, Astra Zeneca, L'Oréal, Bambi, Samsung.

In the course of this year, we will host the world congress of orthopedists, then the European Congress for Behavioral Therapy, these are events that have between 1,500 and 2,000 participants. There is a whole series of large congresses that we cannot announce, before the international associations officially announce them in their calendars.

As Belgrade will host the Specialized World Exhibition Expo in 2027, international clients are already inquiring about the capacity of the destination, which brings us an increase in the number of international meetings. During this year, we will host the World Congress of Orthopedics and the European Congress for Behavioral Therapy, which are expected to have between 1,500 and 2,000 participants. A number of large congresses are planned, which we will announce when the international associations officially announce them in their calendars.

(Immersive Hall)

How important is this for Belgrade, and for Serbia in general?

- The reconstruction of the Sava Center was a prerequisite for Belgrade to gain a leading position in the region in congress tourism, as a meeting place for the most important people from the world of business, science and culture. The renovated Sava Center can host several thousand participants at the same time, which has a direct impact on the economy and development of the city. This means that hotels are full, transport companies are engaged, restaurateurs are satisfied, and other service and small businesses have an additional incentive.

Along with other announced investments in the infrastructure of our city and country, the expansion of the airport and the increase of high-category hotel capacities, we are creating conditions for Belgrade to be branded as a destination that can host the world's largest events.

The Blue Hall, which will be opened in September, is under construction. What would you highlight as a feature of this space?

-The Blue Hall has always been associated with strong emotions and memories of events that left a strong impression on all of us: major movie premieres, concerts of our favorite music stars, but also numerous other gatherings from the world of art, politics and business. We kept the blue color that gave the hall its name, the number of VIP boxes was increased, and the auditorium got new, much more comfortable seats, which now have 4,000 instead of the former 3,672. The Blue Hall will be the largest hall not only in terms of capacity, but also in the fact that it will have the largest cinema 3D screen in the region. With the most modern equipment in the field of sound and light, the hall now has the ability to organize the most demanding events as early as September of this year.

Sava Center is a smart and energy-efficient building, the only one in the region that will have a BREEAM certificate. How important is this in modern congress tourism, and do event organizers demand high standards in terms of sustainability?

-When international clients choose a place where they will organize their event, it is often crucial how "green" the facility is, that is, whether it meets the sustainability requirements. During the reconstruction, we implemented a whole series of solutions that significantly improve energy efficiency and position Sava Center high on the ladder of socially responsible European congress centers. This is confirmed by the BREEAM certificate, which is one of the most important ranking systems and shows the impact of the building on the environment. No building with similar characteristics has this certificate and this is the first time that it has been awarded to a reconstructed, not a newly built, building.

(Photo: Sava Centar)

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