Knowledge in the Sunshine of Marseille

Known as France’s second biggest city, rich in 300 days of sun a year, Marseille stands proud as the country’s largest city on the Mediterranean coast and largest commercial port. Building on the legacy of its European Capital of Culture title and thanks to a whole-of-the city approach promoting Marseille’s excellence in key industry sectors, the number of conferences it attracts has steadily been growing– the recent World Conservation Congress win says a lot about the city’s presence on the international meetings scene.

Marseille’s growth is due not only to the presence of conference venues you would expect in big destinations but also to constant investment in tourism infrastructure. In Marseille, there are cultural edifices designed by internationally acclaimed architects, like the MuCEM, as well as facilities that improve the daily life of Marseille locals and benefit visitors. The Mayor of Marseille, Jean-Claude Gaudin, has long had an ambitious strategic vision: the development of the city must come from the development of its tourism industry.

Six key sectors

In terms of association conferences, that means identifying those events that are aligned with the city and its surrounding region’s key economic, academic and scientific fields. Marseille has a wealth of expertise in six fields, the first one being healthcare. The city is the first cancer research centre after Paris, while its Immunopole cluster is the first French cluster in immunology, spearheading R&D in infectiology and neurology as well – in this regard, the GIPTIS Institute is the largest research centre for rare disease.

It comes hardly as a surprise the European group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) chose Marseille for its 2017 Annual Congress, which attracted more than 5,000 participants. Professor Christian Chabannon, President of the Local Organising Committee, said that on this occasion Marseille demonstrated that it can combine scientific and medical excellence with friendliness and a high sense of hospitality. “But beyond the quantitative success of the congress, the attractiveness of the city itself and the quality of the scientific programme were clearly a draw, as evidenced by the messages circulating on social networks. I believe all stakeholders benefitted from the coming of the event to the city. Congresses such as the EBMT one clearly position Marseille as a major business tourism destination in Europe,” he added.

Marseille is a major player in the digital and creative industries. Accreditated ‘French Tech’ – a label awarded to French cities recognised for theirstartup ecosystem– it boasts a fast-growing startup network and 8,300 businesses are active in what has become a leading digital territory. Shipping, Maritime and Logistics, on another hand, make up for no less than 61 000 jobs, and Marseille, home to CMA CGM, the third world biggest ship owners, is the first French centre for heavy ship and yacht repair. The city’s excellence in aerospace and mechanical research has also attracted the attention of associations –the World Congress of Space Operations recently took place at the Palais du Pharo.

The full version of this article, written by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé, is available in the November issue of Boardroom. For more information on Marseille: /


Similar Articles

  • Posted: January 23, 2019

    In conjunction with the South Africa National Convention Bureau and The Iceberg initiative, one of Boardroom’s partners, a case study to show that conferences drive industries, propel business and contribute significantly to global GDP.

  • Posted:

    The Estonian Convention Bureau and the Estonian Tourist Board are pleased to invite international meeting and event planners to an exclusive MEET ESTONIA fam trip.