ICCA’s Africa Focus; a chat with Marta Gomes

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Having served and still serving the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) in various capacities and in different countries, Marta Gomes, president of the ICCA Board and deputy executive director sales for the ViparisGroup, is a veteran in the international event hosting sector.

In this interview with VoyagesAfriq, the ICCA boss talks on why ICCA is seeking to expand membership, especially from the Africa region, the dynamics of the MICE industry, ICCA feats under her, plans for Africa, among others.

Can you introduce yourself to our audience and your role at ICCA
I joined ICCA in 2006 serving as Chair of the France Benelux Chapter (2009 – 2015), Board member and Vice President (since 2015). Last November members voted me President of the ICCA Board at the 62nd ICCA Congress in Krakow. I am also Deputy Executive Director Sales for the Viparis Group, consisting of 12 major event venues in the Paris region, hosting over 800 exhibitions, association and corporate events annually

Give us an overview of ICCA’s works (Highlights)
ICCA is a global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry. Founded in 1963, ICCA offers unrivalled data, education, communication channels, as well as business development, and networking opportunities. With over 1000 members in over 100 countries, ICCA helps members and associations create and host effective and successful meetings. In doing so, we drive societal change at a local, regional, and global level.

How has it been for you in assuming the role as President of ICCA?
Intense and exhilarating! In early 2023 we launched an extensive Presidential Survey to evaluate member needs and objectives and incorporate these specific goals in our strategy and value proposition. It has shaped much of what we’ve done this year, leading towards our member-led It Starts With Us themed 62nd Congress in Bangkok (12 – 15 Nov). Congress will facilitate industry-relevant outcomes so we can transform the way we do business events in 2024 and beyond.

What are the plans/Initiatives of ICCA in Africa?
Taking our industry forward and giving Africa a global stage as a major platform for international meetings and events. Bringing new members into the ICCA community remains another key objective because new members mean new ideas, new perspectives, and new opportunities. We are also keen to enhance the level of engagement of our members in the region and having a higher level of participation in industry events and contributing to sector knowledge and thought leadership, reaching into many new countries and regions.

Do you think Africa’s MICE sector can be the game changer for its tourism and general economic boom?

I do. Tourism is a positive outcome of the international events industry but the MICE sector brings other more important benefits to economies and societies, providing opportunities to showcase innovation, advance scientific progress, create business contracts and growth. Africa is in a unique position to build on its human capital, young and dynamic population to create inclusive growth for the continent.

How does Africa address the skills gap currently facing the business sector in our industry?
The need to develop talent – both young, and more experienced, professionals – is paramount in all regions of the world. ICCASkills – the first Global certification for our industry – has been created by industry experts for our industry and will help build the talent pool and create a competitive advantage. The events industry is a people business, and education is the best investment. I am delighted that ICCASkills continues to grow in prominence in Africa and believe it will greatly benefit our professionals, their individual companies, and the sector as a whole.

This article was first published in the October 2023 Issue of VoyagesAfriq Travel Magazine

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