Close collaboration key to SE-Asia’s recovery: SEABEF panellists

Panellists believe that the region's business events industry has the potential to create a large economic impact by strengthening collaboration

Business events stakeholders in South-east Asia have responded to the call for closer collaboration made by Edward Liu, honorary president of the Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Associations at the inaugural Southeast Asia Business Event Forum (SEABEF) – part of ASEAN Tourism Forum 2023 – in February.

Hosea Andreas Runkat, chairman of the Indonesian Exhibition Companies Association (IECA), provided an example of a signed Memorandum of Cooperation between IECA, and the Malaysian Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (MACEOS) last August, which turned out to be a recipe for a speedy recovery for the two countries.

Panellists believe that the region’s business events industry has the potential to create a large economic impact by strengthening collaboration

“Aside from growing our own business events, close collaboration with (other) stakeholders (in the region) will bring about better solutions,” noted Andreas.

He added that “much work is still needed to rebuild the MICE sector”, but through collaboration, countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia now have the confidence to explore new opportunities and find ways to strengthen themselves through the sharing of resources, and exchanging of business leads and relevant information.

Abdul Khani Daud, CEO of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), concurred, pointing out that working alongside Indonesia’s industry champions has helped to create more opportunities for the region despite the pandemic.

“This will ultimately attract and reassure and provide confidence to international world leaders, decision-makers, and potential in Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s ability to host world-class events (in the future),” Abdul added.

Andreas encouraged other South-east Asian member countries to look into collaborations. He stated that this would help to create “a roadmap to recovery”, as well as help “attract more global events to the region” by positioning South-east Asia as a preferred business events destination.

For instance, a partnership similar to the Asian Convention Alliance (ACA) can be formed. Under ACA, members Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA), MyCEB, Seoul Tourism Organization, and Taiwan External Trade Development Council have reiterated their commitment to upgrade local events to regional events, as well as help local events become international.

Panellists went on to suggest that for now, the initial focus should be on restoring the region’s business events industry, and facilitating knowledge exchange between member countries through collaborative ventures.

Wisnu Budi Sulaeman, vice chairman of the Indonesia Congress & Conference Association (INCCA), further opined that SEABEF should be made a regular event held among South-east Asian member countries on a rotation basis.

By the next time SEABEF rolls around, Wisu shares that he hopes to see a framework or agreement that all South-east Asian nations can contribute to.

Wisnu elaborated: “(Future) discussions must include marketing and promotions; sharing leads, programmes, knowledge and advice; developing standards; as well as training and education to upgrade the skills of industry players through seminars and workshops.”

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