At right, the President of ICCA, Nina Freysen-Pretorius, presenting a token to the Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, YB Datuk Amar Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Abang Haji Openg, who is accompanied by the Chairman of Sarawak Convention Bureau, YB Dato’ Sri Dr. Muhammad Leo Michael Toyad Abdullah.
With Sarawak in the lead, four years of concerted effort by Malaysian organiztions paid off handsomely for the nation’s international brand in Business Events in the four-day 55th International Congress and Convention Association congress which drew 835 delegates from 61 countries around the world to the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching near the end of 2016.
“Hosting the ICCA Congress is a uniquely challenging undertaking for any destination, with so many of the world’s meetings experts observing every element of the organizing process in minute detail, but Malaysia’s meetings professionals, and particularly the inner team of Sarawak ICCA members, were more than equal to this task, and they have thoroughly earned the respect of their peers for their creativity, professionalism and hard work,” said Martin Sirk, ICCA’s CEO.
“This was not only a huge step forward for Sarawak, where we saw the confidence and capacity of the hosts expand tremendously over the three years of preparation and partnership, but it was also an important lesson for the visiting delegates, as Sarawak shared the story of how they had successfully raised the regional and global profile of what was previously a relatively unknown destination. This commitment to educate and encourage other second-tier ICCA members was one of the key factors in Sarawak winning the original bid, and featured strongly in our education program” he added.
The Congress’ unique theme, “Gathering of the ICCA Global Tribes”, and Sarawak’s trademark authentic friendliness and hospitality, were paired with flawless execution of the evening networking events and high-visibility, citywide welcome-branding throughout the center of Kuching, which lived up to its reputation as Malaysia’s “City of Unity”, helping ICCA’s delegates from over 60 countries to feel totally at home.
“ICCA aims to break down barriers and facilitate business and knowledge exchanges and cultural understanding between our delegates, so the atmosphere and mood created by our local hosts are critical components in achieving a relaxed, open environment. This year this objective was particularly important, since we were welcoming international association executives as host delegates for the first time. I’m delighted to say that the local hosts handled this aspect of the Congress in a perfect way,” said Sirk.
Mike Cannon, managing director of Sarawak Convention Bureau and Co-Chairman of the Local Host Committee elaborated that Business Events are major catalysts of transformation impacting all professions and industries.
“Every global meeting opens up opportunities for nation-building education and technology exchanges, and accelerates national growth to all sectors,” commented Cannon.
Mike also praised the collective effort from all partners in the sector; the synergy formed was to be credited for the great success the ICCA Congress was.
“The execution of the 55th ICCA Congress was the result of synergy in its purest form; the immense support by industry partners, government agencies and the destination – matched with extraordinary passion, leadership and commitment. When a congress of this prominence is successfully held in a 2nd tier destination like Sarawak, it indicates that destinations as such have the overwhelming potential for international Business Events. We hope this will inspire other 2nd tier destinations, especially in the ASEAN region, to rise with us and trailblaze the Business Events revolution,” concluded Cannon.
The journey of the ICCA Global Tribes will advance to the 56th ICCA Congress in Prague where Brooke, the official mascot of the 55th ICCA Congress will make a special appearance. For more information on the ICCA Congress 2017 and ICCA membership, visit www.iccaworld.org.