ICCA Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) is celebrating 50 years as an advocate for international association meetings, it announced this month. Founded in 1963, the organization commenced its 50th anniversary celebration at the closing session of the 51st ICCA Congress, which took place Oct. 20-24 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The celebration will last through the year and will end at the 52nd ICCA Congress in Shanghai, China.

"This anniversary gives us a great platform for the next stage in ICCA's evolution," said ICCA CEO Martin Sirk. "During 2013 we're projecting that we will pass the 1,000 member mark, so we'll be investing in numerous projects to deliver more customized and personalized services, and we'll also be rolling out a major upgrade to our services for international association meeting planners. It's vital that as we continue to grow we retain the personal engagement that has been a hallmark of ICCA membership for half a century."

ICCA's yearlong celebration has its own logo and website, the latter of which includes an interactive history timeline, pages where ICCA members can share their ICCA Congress memories, social media campaigns and video interviews with dozens of members. Additionally, the organization has planned special programs and activities at each of its 2013 events, and plans to publish a special 50-year edition of its international association meetings statistics report.

"It's important to celebrate such big anniversaries and the many successes of the past, but this campaign is just as relevant to ICCA's future," said ICCA President Arnaldo Nardone. "We want to demonstrate the incredible value that is generated by long-term membership, and celebrate the unchanged vision of ICCA's founders that sharing information and building partnerships with colleagues around the world are far more powerful than working in lonely isolation. I am sure that 'ICCA 50' will generate a fresh understanding amongst our members about the true value of belonging to our association."

According to ICCA, the concept for the association was first discussed at the beginning of the 1960s by travel agents Moises Shuster from Mexico and Jean Claude Murat from Paris, who wanted to take advantage of the then-new phenomenon of international association meetings, which were being stimulated by the introduction of commercial jet aircraft. In particular, they wanted to tap into the potentially lucrative medical meetings market. The idea was to share information between friendly business owners based in different countries to obtain competitive advantage and win a bigger slice of the travel revenue from this emerging market. At a meeting in Paris in 1963, Shuster, Murat and five other travel agents from four different continents around the world founded ICCA.

"We came up with the idea in Mexico, we cleared the idea in Paris, we officialized it in Athens and then we regulated it in The Netherlands, so we were a truly global organization from the start," Murat said in an interview in 1985.

Today, ICCA has more than 950 member companies and organizations in nearly 90 countries, and 40 staff with 15 different nationalities working out of six offices in different regions — including its newest regional offices in the Middle East and South Africa.

For more information, or to join the celebration, visit the ICCA 50th anniversary webstie, www.icca50.com.

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