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Tribe of association meeting suppliers gather in Sarawak

Kuching aims to give second-tier cities confidence to bid for major events

Pictured: The opening ceremony of 55th ICCA Congress in Kuching

Hundreds of suppliers to the meetings industry have gathered in Sarawak for the 55th ICCA Congress.

Around 835 delegates, including a small group of invited association executives, are attending the three-day congress, at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching, in Malaysia.

Although primarily aimed at meeting suppliers, the congress programme has a strong association slant, reflecting  ICCA’s ambitions to help its members get closer to their client base.

In one session – called Associations on Fire – members will be allowed to quiz around a dozen association executives on any subject they liked. Another track asks what  suppliers should be doing to make life easier for associations once the bidding process had been finalised.

The last time ICCA held its annual congress in Asia was in 2013 when it visited Shanghai.

In the programme notes Eric Van Piggelen, co-chairman of the local host committee, says: “We envisioned how a winning bid could demonstrate that a second-tier city could defy the odds against bigger players. We wanted to craft a success story that could inspire other business events players in Malaysia.”

More than 60 countries sent delegates to Kuching, and more than 300 were first timers.

Adds Piggelen: “The greater vision was to position Kuching as an icon to encourage other second-tier cities in Asia, our counterparts, to be a part of ICCA. Since 2006, business events have benefited Sarawak, by bringing in new trade, research, education, and foreign exchange. We are confident that business events will continue to be a significant revenue market for Sarawak and Malaysia.”

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