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ICCA and UNWTO collaborate on developing meetings industry expertise and enhancing the knowledge economy of emerging destinations

As part of a new partnership set to revolutionise meetings industry knowledge transfer opportunities and skills development in emerging destinations, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have begun to collaborate on a series of education and knowledge economy development initiatives, named "Masterclasses on the Meetings Industry" for tourism stakeholders in UNWTO Member States, focused on helping to build their capacity as new meeting destinations. The first "UNWTO-ICCA Masterclass on the Meetings Industry" took place in Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan on 10 August 2019 and the second one on October 9 in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, as part of the 8th UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism, “Smart Cities, Smart Destinations”. A third Masterclass will take place in Batumi, Georgia, on 5 December 2019.

Utilising the global insights and industry knowledge of ICCA experts and delivered using UNWTO’s training division “UNWTO Academy”, the Masterclasses serves as a platform to explore the potential of the meetings industry and equip participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to drive its further development in their destinations, while harnessing the meetings industry’s extensive potential as a source of sustainable development, knowledge exchange and economic growth.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “As the United Nations Agency responsible for the promotion of sustainable, responsible and accessible tourism, UNWTO provides immense opportunities for its Member States and Affiliate Members to join forces towards empowering tourism sector. Today, destinations have identified the power of the meetings industry to generate income, create jobs, attract foreign investment, and foster international cooperation and the exchange of knowledge. This Masterclass on the Meetings Industry represents an excellent opportunity for any destination interested in harnessing the potential of this promising segment, and UNWTO is very pleased to be collaborating with ICCA, a valuable Affiliate Member, on its development.”

Against the backdrop of business events becoming increasingly recognised as a driver of long-term global societal and economic progress, ICCA views this new collaboration with UNWTO, a United Nations specialised agency, as a strong indicator that international intergovernmental organisations are beginning to formally recognise business events’ contributions to worldwide development.

Speaking about this new partnership, Senthil Gopinath, Chief Executive Officer, ICCA said: “Our new collaboration with UNWTO signals a new and exciting chapter in both ICCA’s relationships with governments and international development decision makers and how our flourishing sector is regarded as vital to societal advancement on a global scale. As part of our vision to shape the future and legacy of international association meetings, ICCA has always sought to take a leading role in meetings industry advocacy; we are proud to be able to continue our efforts in this field by developing educational materials and training initiatives in collaboration with UNWTO Academy."

“Through these Masterclasses, not only will new destinations be able to carve a foothold for themselves in the rapidly-evolving and lucrative meetings market, they will be able to access the resources needed to empower them to drive their development through the knowledge and economic power of business events. Our collaboration has got off to a strong start with the first Masterclass taking place in Uzbekistan 10 August 2019 and the second one on October 9 in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan. On behalf of ICCA, I would like to thank UNWTO and the governments of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan for their warm hospitality and successful organisation of this prestigious event.”

First UNWTO-ICCA Masterclass on the Meetings Industry in Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan

The inaugural Masterclass in the series held on 10 August saw over 100 governments officials from the Uzbekistan Tourism Administration, representatives of private companies, associations and academia take part in sessions showcasing global meetings industry trends and introducing a practical developmental methodology. Delivered by ICCA’s Regional Director Europe Elif Balci Fisunoglu and UNWTO’s Dmitry Ilin, the interactive seminar facilitated the creation of an important network amongst the private and public sector in Uzbekistan and sought to enhance the destination’s competitiveness, to intense interest and appreciation from the participants.

Second UNWTO-ICCA Masterclass on the Meetings Industry in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan

October 9 marked the second UNWTO Masterclass in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, as part of the 8th UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism “Smart Cities, Smart Destinations”, held at the Independence Palace.

Around 100 participants attended the Masterclass representing the private industry of Kazakhstan along with international tourism board executives and meetings industry representatives from countries such as Austria, Spain, Italy, Korea and Thailand.

During the welcome reception at the Hilton Astana hotel, Helena Mahuas, Deputy Director of Nur Sultan Convention Bureau welcomed the participants and guests and presented the country’s MICE tourism potential and the latest reforms in the field of developing business tourism in Kazakhstan.

Ion Vilcu, director of the UNTWO Affiliate Members Department opened the meeting with the presentation of the UNWTO Affiliate Membership and acknowledged ICCA, thanking the organisation for being an active affiliate member of UNWTO.

Keynote speaker and ICCA European Regional Director Elif Balci Fisunoglu shared meetings industry insights on why destinations are focusing on this sector and how to research and bid to win future meetings. She gave an outline of the current industry trends explaining how destinations are linking their economic and knowledge clusters to meetings when bidding.

Third UNWTO-ICCA Masterclass on the Meetings Industry in Batumi, Georgia

A third Masterclass will take place in Batumi, Georgia, on 5 December 2019.


About ICCA

The global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry

ICCA (The International Congress and Convention Association) represents the world’s leading suppliers in handling, transporting and accommodating international meetings and events, and now comprises over 1,100 member companies and organisations in almost 100 countries worldwide. ICCA has specialised in the international association meetings sector since its establishment in 1963, offering unrivalled data, communication channels, and business development opportunities.

ICCA members represent the top destinations worldwide and the most experienced specialist suppliers. International meeting planners can rely on the ICCA network to find solutions for all their event objectives, such as venue selection; technical and strategic advice; assistance with delegate transportation; full convention planning or ad hoc services.