Web Summit for the third time in Lisbon
The Web Summit, the world’s most significant technological meeting and event, launched by the Irishman Paddy Cosgrave back in 2009 in Dublin, will happen in Lisbon between 5th and 8th November, and for the third time since arriving in Portugal in 2016. About 70.000 people are expected to fill the Altice Arena during the four days. The CEO of TripAdvisor, the founder of Tinder, the Microsoft president and Sophia the Robot are among the speakers.
Recently, Paddy Cosgrave and Portugal’s prime-minister António Costa announced a partnership for keeping the event in Lisbon for the next ten years. Both appeared delighted to have concluded such a deal; one could imagine that they will have now a sound toast to celebrate.
What kind of message does Portugal give to the world with the Web Summit?
There is political criticism in Portugal regarding the image of prowess that the government wants to show with the Web Summit. There have been strikes in several public sectors lately. The National Health System has complaints of doctors, nurses and users alike, regarding the lack of funding. Recently, a police union (of the PSP force) held a rally in Lisbon, in front of the Parliament, demanding salary raises. There are complaints also about the state of the railway system throughout the country.
Looking impartially and from the outside, Portugal is still suffering the effects of the 2011 bailout. Even being dubbed as a success after 2014, austerity measures have been needed to avoid the growth of public debt and keep its interest rates low. The left front “contraption” (Geringonça) of parties sustaining the Socialist government has followed this way, unlike some people were expecting (namely former President, Cavaco Silva).
But no matter what anyone thinks about the government’s image, the country’s image and pockets can’t but benefit with the Web Summit. And it’s not saying that Portugal will turn into a Silicon Valley due to the contacts made during the Summits, or by attracting entrepreneurs fascinated by it after visiting (which can, nonetheless, happen).
It’s just the fact that having the Web Summit adds to the image of a developed, peaceful, organised country that can set up this kind of events in the best fashion. The people that will want to return to Lisbon, someday later. The pictures flooding Instagram about the beauty of the city. And, of course, the money that the visitors are spending with restaurants, hotels and so on.
Portugal wants to cultivate and develop its brand as a touristic country so, honestly, the decision of “grabbing” the Web Summit for ten more years was almost a no-brainer.