Calabar International Convention Centre (Calabar ICC) in Nigeria has appointed conference industry specialist Paul D’Arcy as its first chief executive officer. The centre, presently in the final stages of construction, will celebrate its official opening in April next year. The centre will host its first events however in March 2015.
Paul D’Arcy is well known in international convention circles. He recently has been the ‘opening CEO’ of various new convention centres across the world. In the past twelve years he headed up three newly opened convention centres in Perth (Australia), Doha (Qatar) and Kuching (Borneo/Malaysia).
One of the feathers in Mr D’Arcy’s cap was winning the bid to host the prestigious International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Annual Congress in 2016 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching. Mr D’Arcy was instrumental in securing support for this bid from the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau, Sarawak Convention Bureau and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, which demonstrates his abilities as a strong industry player. Mr D’Arcy’s role in Kuching’s rise as a choice destination hub for business tourism solidifying its role in becoming the host city for a range of tourism-related events in the region, cannot be underestimated. D’Arcy is looking forward to the unique challenges in West Africa by bringing this experience to his role at Calabar ICC.
Previously Mr D’Arcy, spent ten years as the director of finance and deputy CEO of the Sydney Convention Centre, after many years in the hotel and hospitality industry in both Australia and Britain. D’Arcy brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and will start at the Calabar ICC on 1 January 2015.
The Calabar International Convention Centre is the first dedicated international convention centre being built in Nigeria. It is an initiative of the government of Cross River State, a State that is firmly committed in making the business service industry – including tourism and conferences – one of its primary economic activities. The Calabar ICC is expected to become the venue of choice for many national and African association congresses, corporate events and national and international government meetings.
Senator Liyel Imoke, governor of Cross River State and initiator of the Calabar ICC said: “We are excited that the management company that we appointed earlier this year for the Calabar ICC – Alliance Venue & Facilities Management (AVFM) from South Africa – was able to secure Mr. D’Arcy’s services for the Calabar ICC, there is no doubt a man of his competency and knowledge will help us to make our new convention centre a global success. Our expectations are high because there is a great demand for meeting facilities in our country and a state of the art international convention centre is long overdue. We are looking forward to benefit from the wealth of experience that Mr D’Arcy will bring to us as CEO of a very strong operational team that is being formed at the moment.”
Mr D’Arcy who is Ghanaian born but has British and Australian nationality said: “I am delighted to join AVFM in its appointment to operate the Calabar International Convention Centre in Nigeria. The world is very much focusing on Africa right now, with its growing economies, its impressive resources and it’s rapidly increasing middle class. International investors keep a close eye on these developments and want to be part of it. In my opinion the new Calabar ICC will not only become a success in terms of numbers of meetings, but it will definitely help to put Cross River State, Nigeria and West Africa with its endless possibilities, firmly ‘on the map’. ”
He continued, “I hope to make meaningful contributions towards fulfilling the vision of the Cross River State Government in providing economic benefits and jobs whilst increasing awareness of the diverse potentials in Cross River State. I am keen to promote this unique and wonderful destination that welcomes visitors to sample its rich culture, unique food and hospitality. “