January 24, 2023 | By Gerardine Donough-Tan

International business events bounced back strongly in 2022, especially in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The respective convention bureaux sum up their performance, and what’s in store this year for planners to look forward to.

Malaysia

Malaysia is aiming to deliver a viable portfolio of international business events and enhance the country’s profile on a global scale.

“The pace of recovery quickened in 2022, especially after the government announced the international border reopening in April. The momentum is expected to continue in 2023,” said Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) CEO Dr Abdul Khani Daud.

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre alone welcomed 1,350 events in 2022 and more than 360,000 delegates or 90 per cent of its 2019 performance. Half of its 2023 target is already confirmed.

International Architecture, Interior Design & Building Exhibition 2022 drew more than 30,000 visitors, including some 1,000 from overseas. The SEMICON Southeast Asia 2022 exhibition and conference in Penang had about 10,000 attendees. The UNWTO World Tourism Conference 2022 in Kota Kinabalu brought together 1,000 delegates from more than 60 countries.

However, with cost control facing the country, industry stakeholders are under immense pressure. MyCEB is providing support through existing campaigns and increased training. Professional certification programs and training are being run by international organisations such as IAPCO and IAEE.

Fifteen upscale hotels (global and local brands) in Peninsular and East Malaysia have either opened or completed renovations. A dozen more are scheduled for completion this year. The Grand Exhibition and Convention Center within IOI Resort City, Selangor has boosted event space.

Malaysia is also promoting regional MICE cooperation, signing the first memorandum of cooperation with Indonesia.

“We intend to extend similar collaboration with Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and India in 2023 to create more B2B opportunities which will also contribute to the quicker recovery of the business events industry,” said Khani.


Grand Exhibition and Convention Center within IOI Resort City, Selangor has boosted event space

Singapore

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will continue its diversification strategy by tapping on business travel demand from markets such as Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and the USA.

“We will also attract and nurture events that have a strategic fit with Singapore’s identified growth and priority industries, including sectors such as sustainability, aerospace, logistics and applied health sciences,” said Dr Edward Koh, STB’s executive director, conventions, meetings and incentive travel.

Singapore hosted a slew of international conferences and exhibitions in 2022, both new and returning events. The temporary relocation of Cosmoprof 2022 attracted more than 20,000 participants from 103 countries, while the 2,400-pax SBI Insurance from India signalled the return of large-scale incentive programs.

Major events this year include FHA-Food & Beverage, the International Trademark Association 145th Annual Meeting, Herbalife Asia Pacific Extravaganza, MDRT Global Conference and the inaugural SILMO Singapore.

In line with the Singapore Green Plan 2030, STB and the Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers launched the Singapore MICE Sustainability Roadmap to raise industry sustainability standards.

MICE familiarisation trips from Oceania were organised to keep Singapore top-of-mind and allow event planners to experience Singapore’s new offerings first-hand.

“We will continue to organise such trips and promote the INSPIRE (In Singapore Incentives & Rewards) Global program which enables qualifying MICE groups to choose from almost 80 experiences ranging from dining and attractions to team-building and tours,” said Koh.


Supertree Grove in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay | Credit: Gardens by the Bay

Thailand

Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) has prioritised innovation and sustainability so that MICE can grow in line with changing global conditions. It is helping event organisers to produce measurable sustainability and innovate for event efficiency.

While TCEB’s core strategy focuses on enhancing the MICE industry’s contribution to the overall economy and public well-being, it supports local engagement in events. Its “partner for success” policy encourages DMCs to include local activities in capable MICE destinations while helping communities to preserve their cultural assets.

TCEB president Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, explained: “Thailand is always highly dynamic in new creativity for MICE, whether they are venues, city destinations, attractions or meeting practices that respond to global calls and local needs.”

Successes include the 2022 Unicity Global Leadership and Innovation Conference which drew 10,000 delegates to Bangkok and the APEC Summit 2022 at the transformed Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in November. Pattaya saw 3,500 delegates at the International Family Planning Conference and Jeunesse Expo Disrupt World Tour 2022 in Phuket had 1,000 participants.

More MICE events are scheduled in 2023, such as the 62nd ICCA World Congress in November.

“Our primary markets will continue to be in the Asia Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand. This region’s economic prospects stand above the global average. However, we will also attract European markets to further support closer cooperation between the two regions,” said Chiruit.

Among new products, GalileOasis is a multi-purpose arts space comprising a gallery, theatre, café and 19-room, loft-style hotel. It was developed from 20 old, three-storey shophouses in the middle of Bangkok, with a 60-pax meeting capacity.

Patom Organic Village, a one-hour drive south-west of Bangkok, offers nature-tied activities such as organic and eco-conscious farming. Guests can make herbal products and dishes and participate in team-building activities.


A new MICE product, GalileOasis is a multi-purpose arts space comprising a gallery, theatre, café and 19-room, loft-style hotel.