Malaysia sets its sights on Indian outbound MICE groups

PCEB has been actively promoting the state of Penang to the Indian market since January 2018; Armenian Street in Georgetown, Penang pictured

The Malaysian travel trade is eyeing India as a key medium-haul market to rebuild the tourism and business events sector, as its previous top market China continues to remain shut.

Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau’s (MyCEB) CEO, Abdul Khani Daud, shared: “We will be initiating new marketing campaigns to attract more business events delegates from India, as well as providing incentives to DMCs to get more delegates from India.”

PCEB has been actively promoting the state of Penang to the Indian market since January 2018; Armenian Street in Georgetown, Penang pictured

He added that the respective campaigns need to be tailored to each Indian state due to the different cultures and ethnicities, and will be working closely with the Tourism Malaysia office in India to roll out roadshows next year.

Ganneesh Ramaa, vice president, international sales at Destination Explore, opined that South-east Asia is regarded as a considerably safe destination to India-based travellers, and Malaysia should seize the opportunity.

Zahira Tahir, founder & CEO, Universal Holidays, further pointed out that Indian events organisers have also accepted the rising cost of inflation as well, and have increased their budgets by 10 to 15 per cent over the past year.

Based on her company’s incentive travel clients from India, Zahira shared the market is high yield and stays mainly in four- and five-star hotels.

However, one challenge she faces is that seat capacity and flight frequencies were still lacking, and it is not possible to book groups of more than 100 people on the same flight.

To lure more India-based corporates, Ganneesh, who also serves as vice president for inbound and domestic for the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents, suggested: “Granting Indian leisure and business event travellers multiple entry visas will encourage more repeat visits, as well as encourage event organisers to make Malaysia as the point of entry and departure for multiple destination programmes.”

Creating more flights and increasing frequencies are imperative to helping to grow the business events sector from India further, Zahira added.

Elsewhere in Malaysia, Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau’s (PCEB) CEO, Ashwin Gunasekeran, is also looking to India to help its business events sector recover faster, stating that the country is a very important market for the state.

In 2019, Penang hosted seven business event groups from India, the largest being V-Conference held in April and September, attracting 15,000 Indian delegates in total.

Seeing the potential of the market, PCEB continues to hold talks with India-based airlines to initiate direct flights to Penang, thus reducing lay-over time in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok. PCEB is also planning to host get-togethers with clients in India.

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