Johor anticipates surge in MICE opportunities as host for ATF 2025

An aerial view of Johor, Malaysia

The Malaysian travel trade is eagerly anticipating next year’s ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in Johor, as it presents a prime opportunity to showcase the state’s tourism offerings to delegates.

Murray L Aitken, general manager of Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast and area vice president of hotel operations – Asia for Hard Rock International, stated: “There are several Visit Johor 2024 initiatives ongoing this year, and this will set the stage for success in the upcoming ATF 2025. We anticipate a significant increase in business events such as regional meetings, conferences, teambuilding activities, and corporate events.”

An aerial view of Johor, Malaysia

Similarly, Christian Gerart, general manager at Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas, expressed enthusiasm about Johor hosting ATF 2025. He hopes that at least one of the events will be held at Desaru Coast, a destination equipped with the region’s largest waterpark and nearly 800 rooms.

As of press time, details regarding the venues remain undisclosed.

Arokia Das, executive director of The Essence of Asia Tours & Travel, also highlighted the importance of making the most of this rare opportunity. He shared that he had plans to organise site visits to hotels suitable for business events and offsite event venues in Johor, for selected foreign tour operators attending the event.

To maximise the business and tourism potential of the event, Uzaidi Udanis, chairman of the Consortium of Inbound Tourism Alliance, indicated that it was important for stakeholders and industry players to collaborate. He further stressed the need for Tourism Malaysia and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture Malaysia to start planning and marketing early, and suggested disseminating email teasers, and developing pre- and post-tour programmes to generate interest.

Compared to last year, hotels in Johor are also seeing stronger demand for business events.

Pauline Chua, general manager of the Amari Johor Bahru, shared with TTGmice: “Year-on-year, our bookings for 2024 have increased impressively by 25 per cent, and this is accompanied by a surge in enquiries from Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Singapore, and Thailand.”

Meanwhile, Andreas Justkowiak, general manager at Doubletree by Hilton Johor Bahru, noted that there was growing interest from Singapore and China, attributing it to Johor’s proximity and favourable exchange rates.

He expects business events from Singapore to continue growing, especially with the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding on the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone, aimed at enhancing business ties and connectivity between the two countries.

To meet the rising demand for business events, efforts have been made to upgrade facilities, such as the recent refurbishment of the hotel’s grand ballroom and meeting spaces. Additionally, wellness components have been integrated into the Hilton’s Meet with Purpose programme, reflecting a commitment to providing innovative meeting experiences.

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