Geneva prepares for its 100th centenary year

Geneva. Claude Sage, organizer of the Geneva Auto Show, talked to Automobilwoche's Stefan Dona about this year's event.

Q: Mr. Sage, more than a million people visit the Paris and Bologna auto while Geneva has just over 700,000 visitors. Does that not hurt a little?

A: We would like to reach the fantastic figures other organizers manage but we have to consider the difficulties we face such as the transport infrastructure. Geneva train station cannot accommodate large trains and the capacity of roads and buses is also limited. We have new opening times this year to boost visitor numbers, but we do not expect a big increase. However, the show is gaining greater international importance. It is a must for the bosses of all the large automakers and for 5,300 media representatives from 70 countries. We are proud of that.

Q: Next year the Geneva Auto Show will celebrate its 100th birthday and its 75th year as an international exhibition. Will you reach the one million-visitor mark then?

A: We are already holding intense negotiations with all the large automakers to increase the show's attraction. We will not just be showing auto premieres on turntables . All the different brands will have the chance to present their history, to show future projects and to say something about their image. Visitors will be able to look behind the scenes and learn much more than just a car's technical specifications. As far as we know nothing like this has been done before.

Q: Does that mean that you are trying to change the Geneva Auto Show's image and to position it higher?

A: Exactly. We want to significantly improve the quality of the show. Therefore we also expect an increase in visitor numbers. We will attract new interest groups. We want to encourage people to come to Geneva. Which means that a lot needs to be done in regard to the transport problems. The number of parking spaces also has to be increased.

Q: Should there not be more choices for visitors besides the auto show? When the exhibition closes in the evening, galleries, museums or concert halls could open.

A: Of course we are considering something like that. However, we haven't got a building suitable for events of that kind at the moment. There would be enough room for small-scale cultural events. There will be a noticeable improvement when the planned congress center opens, but that will not happen until 2007.

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