I have just come home from a highly-successful fourth edition of the Association Meetings Programme, and I have to say: what an amazing event it was. True to form, ICCA delegates made use of every moment to share and gather new expertise, collaborate on new ideas and build new relationships and potential partnerships – a confirmation that ICCA Members and friends are at the forefront of driving the meetings industry into the future!
In total, we welcomed 128 ICCA Members and international association executives from over 30 countries across the world to Durban, South Africa for 3 days of intensive education, networking and business opportunities, at the first AMP ever held on the African continent. This was also the first time ICCA has returned with an international meeting since our 43rd ICCA Congress in Cape Town in 2004, which was the first Congress I attended. To return to Africa for the first time since then in my first year as ICCA President has therefore been a very proud moment for me.
We had an exceptional turnout from our Africa Chapter, with 45 members in attendance. As we push forward with adapting ICCA’s services to meet the needs of each of our regions, their presence is a strong reminder of how it is vital we listen to what our members in each part of the world require from us to help them do business and further develop their destinations. This edition of the AMP has allowed us to continue to do just this.
The AMP received strong support from the local community in Durban. I would especially like to thank KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube; the Mayor of Durban, Cllr. Fawzia Peer; and Head of International Relations in the Municipality, Mr. Eric Apelgren, for their gracious show of support for ICCA and understanding of the importance of the meetings industry in the continued growth and development of their city. In return, it will be our duty to support Durban’s strategic needs in bidding for and hosting congresses in the future. As a direct result of the AMP, there are now 128 delegates who have experienced the Durban welcome and have returned to their homes and offices as ambassadors for the destination.
Our time in Durban was all about going that extra step to make a positive difference. We were all encouraged from the beginning to be open and to be inspired by the faculty’s stories and expertise and the surroundings in our host destination. The stories we heard from our three fabulous keynote speakers – inspirational, high-flying women from Durban itself – were my personal “inspiration go to further”. In particular, Professor Quarriasha Abdool Karim’s journey resonated with me; as she performs ground-breaking medical research to find a cure for HIV, she is having a direct impact on the health of the people across the African continent and beyond. Professor Karim shared her stories of researching, experimenting, sometimes failing, but through determination is now on the brink of a breakthrough that will change people’s lives.
I hope to see even more of you at ICCA events in the future, learning from amazing stories such as this. If you haven’t done so already, please make use of Early Bird registration ending on 5th July to attend the 58th ICCA Congress, taking place in Houston, U.S.A. from 27-30 October 2019, so we can continue to come together as a community to build bridges that will shape and drive global progress for years to come.
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