Page 12 - Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Directory 2020-2021
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 MALAYSIA CONVENTION & EXHIBITION DIRECTORY 2020/2021 EDITORIAL
JUMPSTARTING BUSINESS EVENTS
 Since the commencement of the lockdown on March 18, 2020, it had been a long, dry wait for the MICE or business events industry to resume operations. This protracted pause finally ended when the government announced that all tourism sub-sectors – one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – can reopen on July 1, 2020.
There are still Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to follow. The business events industry leaders had hoped that the maximum limit for attendees would be capped at 500, but they now have to settle for the government-approved 250.
With interstate travel allowed since the start of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) on June 10, the business events industry is naturally looking at the domestic market as the first step in reviving the industry. According to the CEO of the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) Abdul Khani Daud, the local corporate sector in particular is showing a lot of potential, and MyCEB is creating packages for the domestic market called Let’s Meet Locally.
MyCEB also has a similar initiative for the overseas market called Let’s Meet Tomorrow in preparation to tap business from neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia once borders are opened. A one-stop online booking site is also being developed, where international meeting planners can access information about the various venues in Malaysia and make bookings.
Despite such initiatives, Abdul Khani, concedes there is much to be done: “There are a lot of marketing activities we have to do in order to rebuild the confidence level of our destination and bring business back to Malaysia.”
The business events industry in Penang has also been gearing up for reopening even before the July 1 date that was announced by the federal government. The island state is a
top choice for business events in Southeast Asia thanks to its combination of tourist attractions and first-rate infrastructure. In 2019, the MICE industry brought in an estimated economic impact value of about RM1.503 billion.
Adding to its allure is the fact that Penang is home to the world’s first hybrid solar-powered convention centre, the Setia SPICE Convention Centre, which features the country’s largest subterranean pillarless ballroom. Another venue that is set to be the talk of town when it opens in 2023 is the state-of-the-art seaside facility called the Penang Waterfront Convention Centre, touted to be Penang’s largest with 25,083 square metres of exhibition space and a 7,060-square metre multipurpose hall.
To ensure that domestic events can restart safely, the Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) has set up a taskforce consisting of key industry players to draft new SOPs.
“In order to have domestic events to restart safely, the upcoming SOPs will focus on additional hygiene and safety precautions and preparations that are to be adhered to accordingly,” said PCEB CEO Ashwin Gunasekeran. “These are also enhanced together with the existing event management processes for pre-event, operational, and post-event.”
To ensure a sustained recovery, PCEB along with the Penang state government have developed a three-year business events rejuvenation plan, including enhancements to its Privilege Penang Support Programme 2021-2023 for association meetings, corporate meetings and incentives. Another recovery element is collaborations with Southeast Asian partners in digitalising business events through online engagement and education.
According to Yeoh Soon Hin, Penang state exco for tourism, arts, culture and heritage, the first phase will be focused on attracting national meetings and business events. The next
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