Beyond Medicine: Vienna’s Impactful Approach to Liver Congress

27th November 2023

Vienna, known for its rich cultural heritage and stunning architecture, recently solidified its position as a leading destination for conferences with the successful hosting of the 2023 annual congress of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), which had a major impact on the city as a whole, leaving a long-lasting legacy.

Words Remi Deve

Meeting Destination Vienna might well be the quintessential European conference destination. The city’s well-developed infrastructure, state-of-the-art congress facilities, and iconic landmarks offer an ideal setting for the exchange of best prac- tices and professional networking. Its posi- tioning as a hub for knowledge in many sectors is further enhanced by its acces- sibility. The city is, for instance, well-con- nected to major international airports and better connected by rail than any other European city, making it easily accessible for international participants.


From 21 to 24 June this year, Vienna hosted the annual congress of the Euro- pean Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), drawing approximately 7,000 par- ticipants from the fields of medicine and science. While the event focused on dis- seminating the latest research and knowl- edge in liver health, EASL 2023 went a step further, emphasizing impact projects for the general population under the theme “Love Your Liver.” These projects, implemented by EASL with the support of the Vienna Convention Bureau, marked a pilot endeavor that aimed to leave a last- ing legacy in Vienna.

The success of EASL 2023, held at the Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center, extended beyond medical knowledge to the realm of legacy initiatives. Christian Woronka, Head of B2B Management at the Vienna Tourist Board and Director of the Vienna Convention Bureau, high- lighted the bureau’s role in aligning the visions of international associations with the destination’s potential: “As Convention Bureau, we have been looking at how legacy initiatives can be implemented in practice. In doing so, we see our role as matching the vision of international associations with the destination in the best possible way”.

We are aware that the approach is different for each association. Based on the ideas and visions of the association, we try to bring local partners on board who can concretely support the realization of the impact pro- jects through their network and their area of expertise,” he added.

In preparation for EASL 2023, a collab- orative workshop took place early in the year involving the event organizer and the venue, Messe Wien. Subsequently, EASL worked diligently to elaborate on the proposed local impact projects. To facilitate the implementation, the Vienna Convention Bureau orchestrated partner- ships between EASL and two crucial local institutions in the fields of education and healthcare: the Board of Education for Vienna and the Vienna Healthcare Group.

Ben Hainsworth, Executive Director of EASL, expressed his satisfaction with the collaborative efforts and the impactful results achieved during the event: “We wanted the EASL Congress to leave a last- ing impact on the scientists who attended but just as importantly, help to educate the broader Vienna public about the importance of liver health – and we did! The exemplary diligence, know-how and hospitality of our Viennese hosts and partners have made this event an impactful, joyful and resounding success.”


Beyond the walls of the congress, EASL 2023 actively engaged with the Viennese community. A free public event held at the Billrothhaus in Vienna’s 9th district featured speakers from the fields of medicine and healthcare, raising awareness about liver health among the local population. More- over, Viennese residents had the oppor- tunity to have their liver health checked during the congress, with free liver exami- nations and hepatitis C tests on offer. More than 400 liver screenings and nearly 100 hepatitis C tests were conducted, with individuals advised to consult their family doctors in case of abnormal results.

EASL also took a proactive approach to educating Vienna’s youth about liver health. Collaborating with a local school and two Viennese hepatologists, the association organized an interactive event for school- children. The students created artwork entered on the liver health theme, which was exhibited at Messe Wien, allowing them to actively participate in the event. The success of this pilot project has opened the door to future collaborations with schools in Vienna to further raise awareness about the importance of liver health among the city’s youth.

In light of these accomplishments, Vienna’s legacy project for EASL 2023 serves as a model for future endeavors. The Vienna Convention Bureau aims to extend the benefits of such impact projects to other companies hosting congresses in the Meet- ing Destination Vienna. This cooperation will be actively communicated during the application process, fostering a legacy of impactful initiatives in the years to come. Vienna’s commitment to leaving a lasting impression on both its visitors and local community exemplifies the city’s dedica- tion to advancing knowledge and improv- ing lives through international events.

For more information on Meeting Destination Vienna visit meeting.vienna.info

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