The achievements in 2013 leave Malaysia well poised to reach its goal of attracting more foreign visitors and business events this year. By Kristie Thong 

Malaysia has come a long way in the business events landscape. Thanks to the efforts of a strong industry bureau, it has gained greater recognition as a convention and incentive travel destination. Apart from the established Kuala Lumpur (KL) city, event buyers are starting to pay more attention to the other states in Malaysia, where they offer more incentive-focused experiences but are capable of hosting large international conferences too.

The Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) took part in this year’s Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME) in Melbourne. Joined by 28 industry partners comprising 40 officials, it also set up a local coffee shop on the exhibition grounds with a teh-tarik (pulled-tea) making demonstration. It was MyCEB’s fourth consecutive year at AIME, with continued hopes of strengthening its presence in the Australian market and raising awareness on the diverse products and attractions available in Malaysia.

Established in 2009 by the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, achievements of the non-profit bureau were most evident in the increase of events secured. Malaysia hosted a total of 106 meetings and conventions, 18 exhibitions, and 109 corporate incentive groups last year, with the business events division also supporting 42 associations and 91 corporate incentive groups. This includes the 3rd Global Women Deliver Conference 2013, which saw around 5000 healthcare professionals, policymakers, government leaders and more converge at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) last May. Malaysia was the first Asian country to be given the honour to host the conference, which subsequently generated approximately RM72.5 million (US$21.9 million) in economic impact.

FOR THE FIRST TIME

MyCEB also rolled out a series of “firsts” to improve the state of the country’s business events landscape. With international events listed as a priority of the country’s Economic Transformation Programme*, MyCEB’s International Events Unit (IEU) conducted its first symposium with the objective of discussions around building a sustainable events industry for Malaysia. It saw the attendance of 158 local industry players comprising event management companies and organisers, event marketing planners, venue owners, and government entities. The symposium featured international speakers who presented various topics on event management, risk, as well as tips on networking and transforming home-grown events into hallmark international ones. Attendees were also encouraged to participate in a two-way discussion on maximising the results of events sponsorship.

Zulkefli Sharif, CEO of MyCEB, said that the international events segment has seen progress since the establishment of the IEU in 2011, which will “definitely boost international confidence hence attracting more international event promoters to bring [their events to Malaysia]”.

Last July, MyCEB announced the opening of its first representative offices in China. Under a partnership with marketing company Travel Link Marketing, MyCEB successfully built a presence in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and possibly Chengdu – and is now in a better position to reach out to the Chinese market.

Several years of growth soon came the need to recognise excellence, leadership, innovation, and best practices within the local business events industry. MyCEB and the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers created the first rAWr Awards ceremony held at KLCC last September, which was associated with the growing voice and recognition of the MICE sector as a key contributor to the Malaysian economy. It consisted of 20 categories including the Best International Conference Award, Best Trade Exhibition Award, Best Incentive Programme Award, Best Environmental Initiative Award, and Best Event.

VISIT MALAYSIA

Riding on the success of 2013, a bigger initiative now seeks to achieve even more – a target of 28 million foreign visitors this year. Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014 is the campaign that aims to enhance the growth momentum of the country’s tourism industry through a series of events and activities to promote Malaysia internationally. The goal is to attract up to 36 million tourists and record RM168 billion (US$50.8 billion) in tourism receipts by 2020.

A promising start to VMY 2014 was Malaysia’s first international conference earlier in February. The 61st UICH Les Clefs d’Or International Concierge Congress brought together more than 500 members of the concierge profession, associate and international honorary members representing more than 45 member countries across the globe to interact and establish contacts with fellow concierges and strategic industry partners. It was estimated to yield RM6.7 million (US$2.0 million) in economic impact, while adding to the roll call of distinguished international conferences held in Malaysia.

Adding to the line-up is the upcoming Meetings & Events Australia annual conference in KL this May, which is also the first time the association has held its event in Southeast Asia. It is expected to draw over 600 business events professionals from Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, and generate RM6.4 million (US$1.9 million) in economic impact. The conference will also include several pre- and post-show tours to other parts of Malaysia, creating opportunities for delegates to experience attractions beyond KL.

“This close collaboration is definitely a win-win opportunity for both Australia and Malaysia as it will mutually benefit and boost business opportunities and relationship between both countries, especially in the area of business events industry,” Ho Yoke Ping, general manager of business events from MyCEB told micenet ASIA.

Other wins for Malaysia include a one-month Amway Korea Leadership Conference, which saw 5700 Amway business owners in Sabah for an incentive programme. The group participated in activities such as white water rafting, an exploration of Manukan Island, trekking in Mount Kinabalu, as well as a visit to the Mari Mari Cultural Village.

Penang has also secured the 4th World Conference in Drowning Prevention (WCDP) for 2015. Organised every two years by the International Lifesaving Foundation, WCDP 2015 will bring together over 800 delegates consisting of the global life-saving community, government and policymakers, and yield an estimated RM 8.2 million (US$2.5 million) in economic value.

*Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme aims to drive the nation’s economy towards a developed nation status by year 2020. m

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