Recently Palanga has been presenting itself to Lithuania and the world in a different way – as a venue for large or even international conferences, attracting hundreds of participants not only from Lithuania, but also from abroad to the events in the resort on the shore of the Baltic Sea.
In the autumn, Palanga hosted ministers from the European Union countries for the conference “Our Baltics”, as well as members of the European Committee of the Regions from 15 European Union countries; the famous “Tipping Point” brought business owners and managers to Palanga for its annual conference at the end of September; and at the end of October, Palanga was the venue of the General Conference of the Union of the Baltic cities “Baltic Sea Cities Support Ukraine”. In November, the “Global Leadership Summit” took place at the Palanga Concert Hall.
Dovaldas Kuslikis, the organiser of the latter conference and Director of the public institution “Lyderiam LT” (For Leaders LT), told The Baltic Times that Palanga was chosen for two reasons.
“One of them is practical. In the Western region, we had little choice when looking for a suitable location for the conference. Since our format required not only seats but also table space, we had to choose from only three possible candidates. The Palanga Concert Hall proved to be the optimal option due to its size and price,” says D. Kuslikis.
The second reason for choosing Palanga was its proximity to the sea.
“One of our board members joked that Klaipeda is far away, but the sea is close. So Palanga was a good option not only to attract participants from the seaside, but also the participants from other cities. I have to admit that it worked out well,” he said.
Palanga was awarded the right to organise the General Conference of the Union of Baltic Cities “Baltic Sea Cities Support Ukraine” by winning the tender.
“The decision in favour of Palanga was based on the fact that Palanga's infrastructure is perfectly suited for international events – the space needed for the conferences, the accommodation facilities and other things,” Jurate Mitkeviciute, Deputy Head of the Department of Culture of Palanga City Municipality, told The Baltic Times magazine.
Approximately 200 participants – city mayors and vice-mayors – from ten European countries (Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Norway and Denmark) spent three days in Palanga discussing, sharing experiences and looking for ways to help Ukraine – how to support the war-damaged cities of Ukraine, their possible reconstruction, and how to integrate war refugees from the Ukraine. The conference also focused on the role of the Union of Baltic Cities in the Ukraine's future EU accession process.
"Indeed, various conference organisers – both in Lithuania and abroad – are increasingly discovering Palanga. The accommodation and catering infrastructure is well developed here. Palanga also offers a very well-developed infrastructure of various conference venues – from the largest conference centres such as the Palanga Concert Hall, Kurhauzas to smaller spaces in various resort hotels. Secondly, Palanga is known for its extremely attractive geographical location - the proximity of the Baltic Sea and the nearby airport are also important for many conference organisers,” Rasa Kmitiene, Director of Palanga Tourism Information Centre, told The Baltic Times.
Laura Tauciute, President of the Palanga Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRA), reminds that last year Palanga hosted more large conferences than just the ones mentioned above – “Malonu”, the Lithuanian Rotariada, the Lithuanian Brokers' Convention, and others.
“In May, the Palanga Hotels and Restaurants Association, together with the Lithuanian Marketing Association and the Palanga Concert Hall, invited to Malonu'23, the first conference of its kind. The key message of the event was: why Palanga? Why is it good to live, work, relax, organise events, and entertain yourself here?” said L. Tauciute.
It is planned that the conference will become an annual event, with international speakers invited.
The Director of the PHRA says that more and more conferences are organised in Palanga every year. And the geography of the organisers is getting wider – from Lithuania to abroad.
“In terms of quality, Palanga has been changing and growing a lot in the last five years. Conferences can be organised in many places in Palanga. Not only in the Palanga Concert Hall, Anapilis (Palanga Resort Museum), but also the conference halls of the largest hotels are perfect for this purpose,” says L. Tauciute.
According to her, Palanga is a very compact and convenient city, which can offer a full range of services for conferences.
“It's not a big town, so everything is very close by: accommodation, catering and conference venues. Compared to the country's major cities, the pricing in Palanga is much more attractive," notes the PHRA Director. And the Palanga Concert Hall can be transformed according to demand. "It is equipped according to the latest trends, has excellent sound equipment and is located in the very heart of Palanga. It is very convenient for the organisers, as it offers extremely comfortable conditions for the guests,” emphasises L. Tauciute.
During the conferences, PHRA cooperates and offers the conference participants exclusive accommodation rates, catering establishments provide special menus for the participants.
Dovaldas Kuslikis says approvingly: “The Palanga Concert Hall is a great space, perfectly adapted for events with comfortable seating. Since a large number of volunteers assisted guests at our conference, the auxiliary premises allocated for them were excellent. The separate offices were perfect for us to organise different functions. In addition, the hall has excellent acoustics, the service and assistance in it was quick and timely and the staff was always polite.”
The interlocutors agree that most of the conference participants, when they arrive in Palanga, they combine their work with a mini-vacation in Palanga, staying in the resort after work or even after the conference to relax.
Perhaps most importantly, Palanga is the only city in the country where there is an airport within walking distance of the city centre.
“For international conferences, such a convenient communication is of particular importance,” emphasised L. Tauciute.
According to her and R. Kmitiene, Palanga has all the conditions for increasing interest in Palanga as a conference location.
“The pricing here means lower price with the highest quality, the location is very convenient, the cooperation with hotels and restaurants in taking care of the guest's entire stay is always well-coordinated, there is a well-developed recreational infrastructure – with bicycle paths, SPA, or just a walk by the seaside or in pine forests,” say L. Tauciute and R. Kmitiene.