This western coastal state has been a perennial sidekick to Kuala Lumpur for a long time. That is all about to change.
With the arrival of new infrastructure, combined with the Selangor state government‚Äôs efforts to attract more international business events ‚Äď in partnership with Tourism Selangor ‚Äď over the past couple of years, Selangor is now making a name for itself.
Abdul Rashid Asari, Selangor state government chairman of standing committees for cultural and tourism, Malay tradition and heritage, shared: ‚ÄúThe state government of Selangor started to seriously look at business events in 2015, a year after the national general election, when the opposition party won the mandate to run the state.‚ÄĚ
He added that promotions of Selangor‚Äôs business events offerings have continued this year, with active participation at international travel trade events such as ASEAN Tourism Forum, ITB Berlin and China International Travel Mart.
‚ÄúWe are also actively promoting new products and activities outside of main cities such as visits to Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA; a boat ride to Sky Mirror in Kuala Selangor; or a drive down to visit agro-tourism products in Sekinchan. We have been encouraging inbound agents to include these products in their itineraries for pre- and post-tours,‚ÄĚ said Abdul.
The state government is also supporting inbound agents and business events organisers by providing partial sponsorship for cultural shows and gala dinners, he added.
Francis Teo, head, convention centre for Setia City Convention Centre said Selangor is ready to take the next step to further the development of the business events industry. That next step is to create a state convention bureau that would attract more foreign and local business events, and also act as a catalyst for socio-economic growth to help the country develop into a creative and knowledge society.
‚ÄúThe state government has to act immediately so that Selangor is not behind other states that already have a bureau, or are looking at setting up one,‚ÄĚ Teo said.
He said the expansion of Selangor‚Äôs event space from 3,102m¬≤ to 9,115m¬≤ with the opening of a new column-free hall in November 2016 gives the Centre more capacity to cater to larger-scale business events of up to 8,000 attendees.
And while Setia City Convention Centre a has a strong base of domestic and national meetings, exhibitions and events, the centre hopes to attract more business events from the Asia-Pacific region in the future.
Teo also revealed that Setia City Convention Centre is promoting the venue as an alternative destination to Kuala Lumpur for national and foreign events hailing from Asia-Pacific.
Its close proximity to nature, as well as cultural and heritage attractions in Klang, Kuala Selangor and Sekinchan, makes the state perfect for event planners looking to organise off-site dinners, as well as pre- and post-tour activities.
Better infrastructure will also contribute to the growth of Selangor‚Äôs business events sector.
For instance, two new hotels will be opening later this year. Wyndham Acmar Klang is scheduled to open in 3Q2019 with 488 keys, and is a 15-minute drive from the Setia City Convention Centre, while Courtyard by Marriott Setia Alam will open adjacent to the Centre in 4Q2020 with 425 rooms.
In addition, stalwart Sunway Hotels & Resorts has also recently refurbished its meeting and function spaces at its Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, and Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre.
Wilfred Yeo, senior group general manager at Sunway Hotels & Resorts, said: ‚ÄúWe have ramped up our business events outreach efforts.
‚ÄúWe are focused on getting business events from near home markets such as Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, while enhancing our footprint and market visibility in Greater China, Taiwan, Japan, India, Australia and the Middle East. We‚Äôre targeting not just the primary cities but also secondary destinations and Tier 3 cities.‚ÄĚ
Yeo said the group also works closely with Sunway City business units such as Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway University, Sunway Lagoon Theme Park and Sunway Pyramid Mall to encourage delegates to extend their stay with pre- and post-activities.
Arokia Das, director, Luxury Tours Malaysia, said: ‚ÄúRepeat visitors to Malaysia who have already been to Kuala Lumpur are looking for new destinations.
‚ÄúSelangor stands out because the main gateways, KL International Airport and klia2 are there, and with its good highways and roads, it is easy to get to venues. The local and international MICE properties also provide good facilities and services, comparable to accommodation in the capital, but at better rates.‚ÄĚ
Arokia noted that just five years ago, it was difficult to promote Selangor to event organisers and travel partners abroad because of the ‚Äúlack of awareness of the destination‚ÄĚ.
During that time, Malaysia‚Äôs capital city, Kuala Lumpur, was promoted as it was better suited to handle large business events. However, the situation has changed.
‚ÄúNow, we not only actively promote Selangor for business events, we also encourage delegates to extend their stay with their families by providing value-for-money pre- and post-tour options,‚ÄĚ said Arokia, adding that for the South-east Asian market, shopping-based events coupled with a sprinkling of nature activities are popular.