BILBAO, Spain -- The Forum of European Museums named the Guggenheim
Bilbao the best museum in Europe for 2000.
The Brussels-based forum, which operates under the auspices of
the Council of Europe, cited the museum for its impressive
architecture and success in attracting visitors.
The forum described the Guggenheim as "an example of how culture
and the arts can achieve economic success."
Guggenheim was one of 28 candidates nominated for the award.
In the two-and-a-half years since its opening, the Guggenheim
has brought in $42.3 million to the local economy, according to a
spokesman for the Tourist Office of Spain in New York.
More than 1 million visitors passed through the museum's doors
The tourist office spokesman said the Guggenheim's success has
prompted additional investment in the Basque region on Spain's
northern coast, where the museum is based.
Recent examples include the opening of a congress center in San
Sebastian and an aquarium and Basque education center in
Meanwhile, four new hotels are scheduled to open in Bilbao over
the next two years.
A five-star, 200-room Sheraton hotel is scheduled to open in the
first quarter of 2002 as the first internationally managed property
in the city, according to the Tourist Office of Spain.
A spokeswoman for Sheraton, a Starwood brand, said she could not
confirm the property opening.
Another five-star property, the 160-room Gran Domine, will open
Two four-star hotels under the Spanish chain Hesperia are also
in the works, an 82-room hotel to open in August and a 182-room
property scheduled for a spring 2001 debut.