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James Rees elected as new ICCA president

ExCeL London executive director triumphs over two others in campaign to lead the association.

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) this week announced James Rees as the new ICCA president.

The announcement was made at the General Assembly of the 57th ICCA Congress in Dubai and was live-streamed to all ICCA members around the world, a recording of which is now available online.

Competing for the ICCA presidency alongside Rees were Juan José Garcia and Eric Bakermans, both long-term members of the global association’s board who also ran very extensive campaigns to win the ICCA member vote.

Rees was first elected to the ICCA Board in 2012 and became a vice president in 2017. Prior to this, he served in leadership positions in ICCA’s UK & Ireland Chapter.

In his new role, Rees says he will use ICCA’s strengths to drive innovation, creativity, and incentive to improve the industry.

“As ICCA’s president, I will be a true advocate for our business, a champion of our sector and ensure that ICCA’s voice is heard by government, in a language they understand. It will be an honour and privilege to serve as ICCA’s president,” he says.

The 2018 edition of ICCA’s annual flagship event has achieved record attendance for any ICCA Congress held outside of Europe, with a total of 1,156 industry experts from 79 countries.

ICCA and Dubai Business Events, the city’s official convention bureau, collaborated to create forward-thinking education sessions, site visits to Dubai’s most innovative enterprises and a social programme showcasing the best of local Emirati hospitality.

Welcoming delegates to the congress, His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism, says: “Business events are a crucial part of not only our tourism strategy, but our wider economic development. Whether through the year-round calendar of home-grown trade shows or major congresses like the ICCA Congress, we understand and use the power of meetings and conferences to facilitate the rapid growth of a knowledge economy, and to grow scientific advancement and key industry sectors in Dubai and the UAE.”

Outgoing ICCA president, Nina Freysen-Pretorius says the number of international association meetings continues to grow. “We have identified the Middle East as an important growth area and now have a dedicated seat for the region on our board, a permanent regional director, and this is our first annual congress in the Middle East,” she says.

“The Dubai Association Centre is playing a significant role in growing global associations, and we look forward to 2020 Expo Dubai, because when new ideas and people connect, our industry grows.”