The Penang state government and Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) are jointly developing a three-year business events rejuvenation plan that will start from next year.
Yeoh Soon Hin, Penang state exco for tourism, arts, culture and heritage, said: “We are putting tourism recovery as one of our priorities, and we are working on a Tourism Recovery Action Plan for both the leisure and business events sector.”
The initial focus will be on building and attracting more national meetings and business events, before targeting South-east Asia, Asia Pacific and finally, the global meetings and incentives industry, added Yeoh.
More emphasis will also be given to less popular areas such as Balik Pulau and the mainland as it would be easier to manage social distancing in these places.
Currently, PCEB is in the midst of setting up a post-MCO task force with industry partners – including hotels, convention centres, PCOs and event planners – said Ashwin Gunasekeran, CEO at PCEB. Once it is set up, a list of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines for different categories of the industry will be drawn up.
For the domestic market, Ashwin opined that the recovery for Penang’s business events sector will be six months from now at the earliest.
As part of tourism recovery efforts, PCEB will also roll out a destination branding campaign called “Here for Tomorrow” emphasising that Penang is a Green Zone and that SOPs are in place to conduct business events safely in the destination.
These efforts, and more, were revealed during the Next Normal webinar organised by PCEB.
Another speaker, Khoo Boo Lim, chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels Penang Chapter, foresaw the use of more technology adoptions in the future of the meetings industry and stressed that hotels should be agile to changes that are looming and make the necessary investments.
Meanwhile, Charles Teo, honorary secretary of Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia and event director of IFLA2020 World Landscape Architects Summit said both the ILAM and IFLA 2020 local committees had worked with PCEB to postpone their event next year. It was supposed to take place in August this year.
Teo shared that the event next year will rely on the usage of conference apps that sport with new features which will include the tracking of delegates health post-conference, so that tracing can be done more quickly if someone contracts Covid-19.
The local organising committee is also looking at other precautionary measures such as pre-packing food (as opposed to buffets), and having an isolation room at the venue and a health officer on standby.