The rising cost of operations in expensive Singapore has created a window of opportunity for convention centres in neighbouring Malaysia, where prices are recognised as being relatively lower.
In December 2022, Economist Intelligence Unit identified Singapore as the world’s most expensive city to live in, in a tie with New York. More recently, ECA International’s Top Ten Most Expensive Locations For Business Travel ranked Singapore in second place in Asia and 19th worldwide.
Francis Teo, head of Setia Convention Centres in Malaysia, told TTGmice that some exhibition organisers have expressed interest in moving their shows to Setia’s venues in Greater Kuala Lumpur and Penang, or to establish new shows, in 4Q2023 or early 2024.
Teo said the associated costs of organising an exhibition in Malaysia, such as venue rental, manpower hire, construction of exhibition stands, transportation and accommodation, are roughly 30 to 40 per cent less than in Singapore.
Malaysia’s affordability is a plus point, but the country has many other winning factors, stated John Burke, general manager of Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
“Malaysia has a positive global reputation, leading in industries like oil and gas, medical and healthcare, banking and finance, education, construction, technology and innovation. There are also a lot of opportunities for import/export, business matchings and investment.
“We leverage on these strengths and look at the relevance and potential for growth when we talk to organisers about bringing their exhibitions here. We also work very closely with exhibition organisers to explore and tap into new market opportunities as more industry sectors like transportation, wholesale and retail, food and beverage, technology and innovation develop and boom here,” Burke told TTGmice.
Burke’s team is actively exploring opportunities to bring in more exhibitions, and he noted that the recent UFI Asia Pacific Conference held at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre had fired up “great interest” in the venue among South-east Asian attendees, including those from Singapore.
The UFI gathering also had a welcome reception at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC), the largest exhibition venue in the country with 11 massive halls.
Winnee Lim, general manager – business development at MITEC), said some Singapore exhibition organisers were keen to rotate their shows to Malaysia, after having a chance to view MITEC’s offerings up close.
Lim is aware that materialisation of business from Singapore will depend largely on exhibition organisers’ assessment of Malaysia’s trade suitability. And she believes that Malaysia can give Singapore a good run for its money.
“Malaysia is a value-for-money destination. We have a bigger market size compared with Singapore, and we have many options in terms of accommodation. We also have a very supportive federal convention bureau that provides support and incentives to event organisers,” she stated.
Seeing these advantages, Lim plans to promote MITEC to exhibition organisers in Singapore.