Time for South-east Asian MICE industry to shine

Sandiaga Uno strikes the gong to mark the opening of SEABEF

The disruption of business events in China for more than three years has led many European and US organisers there to deploy their resources elsewhere, particularly to South-east Asia, creating a prime opportunity for the region’s business events industry to shine.

Speaking at the inaugural Southeast Asia Business Event Forum (SEABEF) on February 3, an event that was part of ASEAN Tourism Forum 2023 last week, Edward Liu, honorary president of the Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Associations, said the “Aseanistion” of the industry is underway. He noted that some senior management staff were relocated to South-east Asia, which is an attractive market of more than 684 million people.

Sandiaga Uno strikes the gong to mark the opening of SEABEF

“We can expect more conferences and exhibitions to be staged in South-east Asia this decade,” he added.

In his keynote presentation, Liu suggested that Indonesia, which hosts the seat of ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta, could lead the way in the formation of an ASEAN MICE Federation to build a stronger business event ecosystem in the region. This could be paired with the launch of an ASEAN expo that focuses on key industries and innovations, with editions rotated among member nations. Funding could come from ASEAN and participating countries.

Liu also asked the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy to form an international business events advisory panel, tasked with charting the development of the industry in the country.

In response, Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia minister of tourism and creative economy, said he is “in full support of the leadership to collaborate (with the business events community) for an ASEAN expo”.

He added that rotating the expo among the 10 ASEAN member countries will position South-east Asia “as an epicentre of growth” and the hub for world-class business events.

He would work with related associations to determine government support for the formulation of the ASEAN MICE federation, and table both initiatives at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting.

SEABEF could be the “embryo” for the eventual expo and federation, Sandiaga opined.

In addition, Sandiaga shared that Indonesia is working on digitalising the business events permits process and establishing a platform for knowledge exchange with the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Supporting the growth of the business events industry will result in investment opportunities and job creation for the country and its people.

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