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Supporting the civilised world through our industry: why Turkey matters to us all

Martin Sirk CEO ICCA

Recently the ACE of MICE show took place in Istanbul, and ICCA as usual sent one of our representatives from Head Office to support our exhibiting members, and to run a well-attended education session.  We experienced a very busy, positive show, and the usual friendly professionalism.  It is less than a year and a half since the very successful ICCA Congress in Antalya, an event which showcased Turkish expertise, promoted the tremendous quality of Turkish venues and destinations, and demonstrated why this country has climbed all the global rankings to become one of the world’s top meetings destinations.  However, over the time since our Congress Turkey has suffered from a series of dreadful terrorist attacks that have not only caused death and destruction, but have also battered the confidence of international meeting planners. And little did we know that the latest such attack would hit the streets of Istanbul just after ACE of MICE was over, creating headline news all over the world.  What can be done in the face of such awful events? What we know is that although individual acts of terrorism may take place, life and business go on as normal in the vast majority of the country.  Most events go ahead with nothing more challenging than heightened security checks and more rigorous risk management planning.  Most delegates leave having had a wonderful experience.  If we allow the terrorists to stop us from traveling to Istanbul, or prevent us from holding international events in Turkey, then conflict, ignorance and barbarism will be the winners.  I am certain that confidence will return to the market place, and believe that ICCA members have an important role to play in encouraging that confidence to emerge, by keeping in close touch with their Turkish colleagues to understand what is really happening on the ground, and helping to educate clients and decision-makers.  It is in all the world’s interest for Turkey to remain a successful international  meetings destination, so it can continue to act as a bridge between civilized cultures, and can help us to win the battle of ideas that we are waging with the terrorists. 

Martin Sirk