Page 13 - Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Directory 2020-2021
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 step will be to broaden the focus to Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific before finally targeting the global meetings and incentives industry. Additionally, less popular areas such as Balik Pulau and the mainland will also be considered in order to better manage social distancing.
Despite these strategic plans, Gunasekeran remains realistic about his expectations on the speed of recovery. “It will be a tall order to expect business to Penang within six months. You will have to look at the readiness of the supporting value chain, such as airlines and cruises, and what extent they are ready to operate. It will take a good one year before events can partially return in a hybrid state, before easing into live events.”
A hybrid event is one that combines a traditional “live” in-person event with a virtual online component. For Alan Pryor, chairman of the Business Events Council Malaysia (BECM), hybrid events could be a permanent feature in a post-COVID-19 world.
“I believe that the global MICE industry as a whole is embracing the new reality that has shifted everyone’s focus to virtual events as part of their event delivery portfolio. We expect that there will be various technological innovations that venues and industry players in Malaysia will implement in the new environment.”
It is not just in Peninsular Malaysia where MICE industries are thriving. Over in East Malaysia, Sarawak made history in 2019 when it secured the highest number of business events in a single year. These are estimated to bring in over RM90 million in Direct Delegate Expenditure (DDE) from the spending of flights, accommodation, meals and entertainment.
Convention centres in East Malaysia are getting bigger and better as well. The largest one in Sarawak is the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching with 13,175 square metres of event
space. More recently, the distinctive CIDB Convention Centre Sarawak opened in 2018, hovering over a pond and featuring cultural motifs on its floor-to-ceiling windows. Next up is Sarawak’s first smart building with a convention centre – the Hikmah Exchange – scheduled to be completed later in 2020. In Sabah, the prestigious Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) began operations in February 2020, featuring the largest exhibition hall and pillar-free convention hall in Borneo.
With the resumption of business events on July 1, 2020, the Sarawak government is helping to restart the industry by offering incentive packages such as the Business Events Planner Incentivised Package (BEPIP). Additionally, both the Sarawak Convention Bureau and Sabah Tourism have agreed that collaborations with each other give them a better chance of winning bids to host business events.
Noredah Othman, General Manager at Sabah Tourism, said: “We should take advantage of our natural assets – islands, beaches, cultures and find ways to collaborate and win businesses because together we are stronger.”
Amelia Roziman, Chief Operating Officer at Business Events Sarawak (under Sarawak Convention Bureau), proposed bidding for business events as a “Borneo bid team” instead of as an individual destination.
There seems to be plenty to look forward to in the MICE industry once the pandemic subsides. In March 2020, MyCEB announced that the country had at that point successfully secured 155 business events, to be held from 2020 to 2026 and attended by about 368,000 delegates while generating RM2.39 billion in estimated economic impact. This is a strong indication that despite the pandemic, Malaysia is well positioned to retain its place among the top business event destinations in Asia.

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