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ICCA Asia Pacific’s new chairman tackles the online revolution

Mr Gunasekeran, CEO of Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau, takes over from outgoing chairman, Jason Yeh

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Ashwin Gunasekeran: ICCA is planning relevant online engagement and learning activities with members. Credit: PCEB

PENANG - The International Convention and Congress Association (ICCA) has elected Mr Ashwin Gunasekeran as its new chairman for the ICCA Asia Pacific Chapter Executive Committee (EXCO). His term will last from now till 2022.

Mr Gunasekeran is the CEO of Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB). He takes over from the outgoing chairman, Mr Jason Yeh founder and CEO of GIS Group. Penang currently has three ICCA members, namely PCEB, Setia SPICE Convention Centre and Hotel Equatorial Penang.

Joining Ashwin in the EXCO are deputy chairs - Ms Keiko Nishimoto, research fellow, Kyoto University Graduate School of Management Japan; and Mr Eric Abramson, international project director, Guangzhou Yuexiu International Congress Centre China.

Mr Gunasekeran said: "COVID-19 has thrown a curveball like never before at us, and these past few months have been a steep learning curve for the events industry.

"The ICCA Asia Pacific committee is in the midst of planning relevant online engagement and learning activities with and for the members, and we continuously encourage the members to provide feedback as it is important to understand the different situations in everyone's region and country.

"It is vital at this time of crisis to reach out to one another to keep the spirits and motivation level high - be it amongst our partners or clients, and ICCA Asia Pacific committee is looking forward to having more and more online interactions with our network of members, partners and clients.

"The prevalence of technology in business events have led to some innovations and transformations in how events have been conducted in recent years. We have been using technology such as live streaming and online polling in conferences and meetings and AR and VR in exhibitions. What COVID-19 has done is to speed up the online revolution in our industry.

"Having said that, it is not just our industry, but all other industries that are being affected by this pandemic have chosen to go online and conduct virtual activities. This is a significant marrying of the online and offline worlds.

"For something to become more effective is to improvise on what is relevant. The online world has given most of the world an alternative to on-site work and face-to-face meetings, and we are forced to adapt at a rapid pace during this pandemic.

"Moving forward, individuals and companies who own various technological and online communications platforms will have to continue innovating and improving their technical support and technology enhancements to cater to the rising demand."