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First Ever ITA-AITES World Tunnel Digital Congress 2020 (WTDC2020) Secures Success at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
WTC2020 Organising Chairman, Ir. Dr Ooi Teik Aun (front row 3rd from left), and team members all ready to go during the 46th ITA-AITES World Tunnel Congress, which was successfully completed and fully conducted in digital format (for the first time ever in the history of ITA) at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre recently.

KUALA LUMPUR, 12 October 2020 – The annual ITA-AITES World Tunnel Congress was successfully completed at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (the Centre) recently, only this time with a major difference to its predecessors. The 46th edition of the congress was fully conducted in digital format, for the first time ever in the history of ITA.

When Malaysia won the bid in June 2017 at WTC2017 to be the WTC2020 congress’s host, the co-organisers, The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) and the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA) did not expect the decade-old tradition of a face-to-face congress since 1974 to be thwarted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the pace at which it had to pivot to a digital format.

WTC2020 Organising Chairman, Ir. Dr Ooi Teik Aun said, “The WTC is equivalent to the Olympics for the tunnelling community, and with an anticipated attendance of 2000 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.”

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, while the rest were accommodated as part of the virtual conference programme.

“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 maximize 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.”

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.”

The Digital WTC2020 was attended by over 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 (virtually).

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