The annual ITA-AITES World Tunnel Congress 2020 (WTC2020) was recently hosted at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (the Centre) and attracted 1,000 participants from 54 countries with up to 16,000 visits to the 262 technical papers and 8,000 visits to the 80 exhibition companies.
Co-organised by The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) and the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA), the 46th edition of the congress was fully conducted in digital format for the first time in the history of ITA.
WTC2020 organising chairman, Ooi Teik Aun said: “The WTC is equivalent to the Olympics for the tunnelling community, and with an anticipated attendance of 2,000 delegates, and an estimated RM21million in tourist revenue, we were very much looking forward to bringing this year’s congress to life in May. When the Covid-19 pandemic first hit Malaysia in February, it did not dampen our spirits. We decided to continue with the event and worked hand-in-hand with the Centre to quickly secure the next best available dates. When most countries started imposing travel restrictions and stringent border control, bold decisions were made and it was decided that this WTC2020 congress will be moved to fully virtual platform to protect the safety and well-being of ITA family members.
“When WTC2020 became Digital WTC2020, our main concern was the stability and strength of the Internet connection and whether we could broadcast the virtual event worldwide smoothly. This is where the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) played a central and vital role as the IT infrastructure and virtual platform provider. By ensuring the congress participants were able to fully enjoy and maximise their digital event experience we delivered beyond their expectations within a very short adaption period. In that aspect, the Centre and its team have certainly outdone themselves and we are happy to have had this opportunity to collaborate for mutual success.”
Originally, the event programme consisted of a series of pre-conference activities involving training and workshops, up to five networking sessions and several working group sessions, but these had to be reduced and cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while the rest were accommodated as part of the virtual conference programme.
Alan Pryor, general manager of the Centre said: “Despite the situation, we were most delighted that IEM and ITA chose to continue working with the Centre in organising the event albeit many significantly challenging changes and a very short transitional phase to pivot to virtual platform. We are grateful for the trust and confidence placed in our team’s expertise and knowledge. The Centre’s flexibility to accommodate any client needs and our partnership approach were the backbone to ensuring the transition of WTC2020 from a physical event format to virtual format was delivered without a hitch.”