By Lauren Arena

As domestic travel resumes in countries across Southeast Asia and the business events industry charts a course to recovery, could we soon see travel bubbles appear in the region?

As Malaysia prepares to kick-start its domestic meetings market, we sit down with Business Events Council Malaysia (BECM) chairman, Alan Pryor, to find out whether collaboration among industry associations, similar to that between CINZ and BECA, could drive the resurgence of events in Asia?

Read more below.

Q. Earlier this month, CINZ and BECA announced a joint agreement to help rebuild the MICE industry in Australasia. Do you believe a similar collaborative effort is possible in ASEAN?

A. We certainly hope such opportunities will arise with our ASEAN neighbours and regional destinations. According to Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, a travel bubble is being discussed with ‘green zone’ countries in ASEAN as well as China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, which have been declared as safe by the World Health Organisation and the Malaysian Health Ministry and Home Ministry.

We hope that such efforts will also contribute to rebuilding the business events sector and create more opportunities for collaboration in the region as we move forward.

In Malaysia, the Government’s current primary focus is to stimulate local tourism and they recently announced that the domestic tourism market would be allowed to reopen, with restrictions on interstate travel eased earlier this month. Domestic business events of up to 250 participants will also be allowed to resume from 1 June.

Q. What actions, if any, has BECM taken to drive regional recovery?

A. Together with industry stakeholders and in collaboration with the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), we are engaged in supporting and delivering a few industry-wide campaigns to kick-start industry recovery.

For example, MyCEB is creating two packages, the first to support the domestic market called ‘Let’s Meet Locally’, and the second, called ‘Let’s Meet Tomorrow’, to help revive the regional market once the Government announces the approval of cross-border activities.

Q. Moving forward, how can the industry across ASEAN work better together to ensure the entire region can recover from the Covid-19 crisis?

A. We think it is very important to maintain and build upon the strong level of partnership, collaboration and solidarity that has emerged from the Covid-19 crisis. Our first priority will be to support our industry association activities and platforms across ASEAN, which remain a growing and valuable business generator of regional events.

In addition, we will continue to collaborate to develop and professionalise the entire business events supply chain across the ASEAN region.

These efforts are being recognised by the global meetings industry and will contribute to the region’s recovery from Covid-19.

Alan Pryor is chairman of Business Events Council Malaysia (BECM) and general manager of Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.