Primed for performance: Kuala Lumpur

With a weak ringgit, affordable hotel rates and better hardware, the stars are aligned for Kuala Lumpur’s MICE sector to prosper. By S Puvaneswary

The main gateway into Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is benefitting from a weak ringgit, affordable hotel rates and improved infrastructure which altogether are driving business events to the city, revealed inbound agents.

Inbound agent, Nanda Kumar, managing director of Hidden Asia Travel & Tours, had seen a 20 per cent increase in meetings and incentives from Indonesia during the first 10 months of 2016, up from 2015.

Kumar explained that “reasonable” rates at quality city hotels with updated hardware had helped.

“I can get agent rates of RM350 (US$78) to RM450 for a five-star international branded property in the city. Five-star rates here are similar to four-star options in Indonesia,” he said, adding that clients can also enjoy many new upscale properties and refurbished older ones that meet global standards.

Arokia Das, senior manager at Luxury Tours Malaysia, said his company witnessed strong growth in regional markets such as Indonesia and the Philippines, especially for meetings and incentives, catalysed by a weak ringgit and new products that expand pre/post-conference options.

“Kuala Lumpur City Hall and Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau has invested a lot in making the city more attractive to tourists, and this has helped us to promote the destination to business event organisers and to come up with creative itineraries,” Arokia said.

“For example, restaurants and bars at high elevations, such as Atmosphere 360, Marini’s on 57, Nobu Kuala Lumpur, SkyBar and Heli Lounge Bar, make excellent (venue)choices for events. Organisers are willing to pay for unique experiences and great views. These restaurants and bars are also very conveniently located in Kuala Lumpur City Centre and around Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre,” he said.

Getting around Kuala Lumpur City Centre has also gotten easier for event delegates looking to explore the city in their free time. Kuala Lumpur City Hall built covered walkways linking shopping malls in the Bukit Bintang area with its surrounds in late 2014. Shoppers can use a 4.5km sheltered elevated walkway that links Berjaya Times Square, Sungei Wang Plaza and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

Abdul Rahman Mohamed, general manager at Mayflower Holidays, told TTGmice: “We have seen increased demand for meetings and incentives from regional markets such as Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, and we think one of the reasons for choosing Kuala Lumpur is their increased buying power thanks to a weakening ringgit.

“Many organisers like to stay in the city centre because of the many shopping options available.”

China, a darling source market for many leisure and business events destinations, is also on the radar of Malaysia’s tourism industry and the country’s government has established an e-visa facility in March for Chinese passport holders to facilitate their arrival. This is a boon for Malaysia’s business event organisers, as visa processing duration has been greatly reduced from five working days to just one.

Through the e-visa, Chinese visitors can stay up to 30 days in Malaysia.

Abdul Rahman said: “This has made it hassle-free for Chinese event delegates to obtain a visa. Kuala Lumpur is always the preferred choice for the Chinese to hold their meetings and incentives because it is the main gateway and has infrastructure for large meetings with a few hundred to thousands of delegates. It also has tourist elements such as shopping, nightlife and nature-based activities like jungle treks and canopy walks.”

He added that sightseeing options outside of Kuala Lumpur, such as to Kuala Selangor, Royal Selangor Visitor Centre and Sunway Lagoon, can also be arranged easily.


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1Scheduled for completion in 2018, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre’s expansion will provide an additional 10,000m2 of flexible and multi-purpose space over three floors. The foyer areas on levels one and three will link directly to the existing facility. There will also be three levels of underground car parks with 1,500 spaces, two levels of retail and F&B outlets, a sky garden overlooking a park and a rooftop restaurant.  After expansion, the Centre will offer 30,059m2 of space, making it ideal for larger international association meetings and concurrent events.


Taman Tugu, designed as a lush forest reserve with more than a thousand species of tropical trees, will emerge at the back of Tugu Negara National Monument. Costing RM650 million (US$155 million) to build, the attraction will have its phase one ready by 2018. There will be camp sites, jungle treks, lakes and a water park, as well as an outdoor venue for events. Walkways have been planned to connect it to Taman Perdana Botanical Gardens and other tourist attractions in the area, including the National Museum and KL Sentral.

3Famous for being a hive of delicious street food, Jalan Alor is up for an upgrade and its new face will be unveiled in 1Q2017. New landscaping and lighting works can be expected to elevate the dining experience. Jalan Alor is very accessible, with many four- and five-star hotels within close proximity.


{Developments to Watch}


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