Malaysia looks inwards to jumpstart MICE sector

Abdu Khani:

Business events industry leaders in Malaysia predict that the recovery of the sector will take between six months to a year, starting with domestic events.

However, this assumption is built on the premise that the Ministry of Health Malaysia would soon announce that business events will be allowed, with strict guidelines and standard operating procedures in place.

Abdu Khani: domestic meetings first to return, with regional meetings being MyCEB’s next target

Abdul Khani Daud, CEO, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), said he was pushing for 500 people as the maximum limit for business events, raising the limit of 250 which the National Security Council is considering.

Abdul Khani was speaking at a webinar called The Future of BE in Malaysia. The session was organised by Place Borneo, a local MICE management company, and was moderated by Place Borneo’s managing director, Mona Abdul Manap.

For domestic business events, Abdul Khani believes that the local corporate sector is showing lots of potential. But this alone will not be enough, where the next step will be tapping business from neighbouring countries – Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia – when borders are reopened.

However, the road ahead will be long. He said: “There are a lot of marketing activities we have to do in order to rebuild the confidence level of our destination and bring business back to Malaysia.”

For now, MyCEB is creating packages for the domestic market called Let’s Meet Locally, while the international market will have a similar initiative called Let’s Meet Tomorrow. MyCEB stressed that it be working closely with “hotels and integrated resorts” to develop these packages.

Eventually, he hopes that Malaysia will be able to collaborate with regional destinations during the bidding process, so that more than one destination will benefit from an international business event. MyCEB is looking at creating a one-stop online booking site where international meeting planners can find information about the various venues in Malaysia and make bookings.

Another speaker, Ashwin Gunasekeran, CEO at Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB), said the initial focus for Penang will be about getting national business events to choose Penang.

To this end, PCEB is putting together an enhanced Privilege Penang programme that provides support for local and regional meeting organisers starting from 20 delegates.

Meanwhile, the Sarawak Convention Bureau and Sabah Tourism, both acknowledged they stood a better chance of winning bids to host business events by collaborating with each other.

Noredah Othman, general manager at Sabah Tourism, said: “We should take advantage of our natural assets – islands, beaches, cultures and find ways to collaborate and win businesses because together we are stronger.

Amelia Roziman, COO at Business Events Sarawak, proposed bidding for business events as a “Borneo bid team” instead of as an individual destination.

On post-Covid-19 trends in the business events industry, Noor Ahmad Hamid, regional director ICCA Asia Pacific pointed out there will be likely more virtual and hybrid events in 2021.

Agreeing that this will be the new norm, Amelia shared that Business Events Sarawak was also looking at the feasibility of collaborating with partners to hold virtual site inspections to attract international business events to Sarawak post-Covid-19.

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