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Sarawak takes a look at “The Business Events Effect”

As 2016 ushers in the 10th year anniversary of the pioneering Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) and a glittering celebration which coincides with the 8th Anak Sarawak Award, we take a look at the impact of Business Events to Sarawak - “the Business Events Effect”.

“To understand Business Events in Sarawak is to understand that these events have a profound effect on every industry and profession,” said Mike Cannon, Managing Director of the Sarawak Convention Bureau.

A decade later after the establishment of SCB in 2006, the business of Business Events has demonstrated how its wings transcend the borders of tourism. Its contributing indicators do not lie. In 2015, with 59 conferences and 15,380 international delegates entering Sarawak, the direct delegate expenditure alone was more than RM 31.4 million. The magnitude of its effects reverberates across the state’s education, export trade, and research capacity. This domino effect is greeted with no surprise, as international professionals and experts from numerous fields from all over the world flock to beautiful Sarawak.

“By providing the platform for the convergence of brilliant minds, Sarawak itself will grow to equal and exceed its own ambitions of development. The impact to our home-grown industries is both diverse and long lasting,” said Mike Cannon.

This led to the creation of BESarawak, a special campaign initiated by the Bureau. It is dedicated to all aspects of Business Events, empowering industry players towards new heights in professionalism and excellence through its 3-prong programme: Communicating, Educating and Awarding for associations, corporate organisations, government agencies, media and industry partners.

To explore the world of Business Events, it is crucial to get an insight of what Business Events means to some of Sarawak’s key industry players; whose businesses and contributions help to keep the industry relevant and vibrant. From the perspective of the Sarawak Tourism’s Mary Wan Mering, “The Board emphasizes on the overall marketing of tourism as it is multi-faceted. We have variations of tourism, such as medical and education tourism. However, Business Events is the strongest delivery funnel to date as it has helped to raise the profile of the destination and reinforce our brand. For instance, we have long since advocated the generic branding of ‘Culture, Adventure and Nature’ in Sarawak but the Business Events initiative has really helped to push the envelope!”

For the Imperial Hotel Kuching, Business Events is perceived to be a dynamic segment of arrivals. MICE Manager Nora Wee said: “Business Event delegates contribute more revenue to the hotel than a leisure traveller; up to 3 times more! Gone are the days when hoteliers depended on FITs (Free Independent Traveler) or even GITs (Group Inclusive Tour) as their main source of revenue.”

According to Managing Director of Cat City Holidays MokVenia, “Business Events has transformed the mindset of tourism operators. Destination Management Companies (DMCs) were born as Business Events paved the way for endless opportunities. The arrival of this profession provided not only a learning curve but it also sharpens skillsets which are invaluable to penetrate into the profession. Engaging with Business Events means going the extra mile in promoting our state, Sarawak.”

Highlighting a first-hand example from a Destination Management Company (DMC), CPH Travel Agency’s Director of Operations Oscar Choo offered a brief narrative of the beginning of his Business Events journey, “Pioneering the tourism industry in Sarawak since 1968, we started the MICE sector at a relatively slow pace with only small groups. We wanted to ensure high quality of service. In 2012, when we managed the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), we were unaware of the scale of such a congress. Even the term Destination Management Company was non-existent in our dictionary! From then, we progressed with the help of SCB and the conference organizers. The smooth handling of 1200 delegates from around the world led to a succession of other international conferences under CPH’s belt. This built our confidence and a MICE department was created to focus on Business Events.”

From the perspective of an event management company, Borneo TRU Events’, General Manager, Terence Lim said, “We are truly committed to progressing in the Business Events profession. We are also a member of MACEOS and currently in the process of joining MyCEB. Business Events is definitely the way forward.”

Jason Chew, Managing Director at Events Horizon, who has been in the Business Events game from the very beginning said, “Business Events has always been our core business focus and our ‘bread and butter’. The avenue of opportunities has been paved by the SCB through BESarawak. The ball is in our court and we need to ensure our tasks are delivered professionally and with great passion! Only by doing this can we sustain this profession.”

With the upcoming Business Events revolution set in place, SCB’s Mike Cannon stressed that the synergistic partnership amongst all industry players has never been more important. “The efforts by conference hosts, industry members, government agencies, and suppliers – matched with their extraordinary passion, leadership and commitment, is ensuring the success of Business Events here in Sarawak.”

The 10th Year Anniversary of Business Events will see a celebration spanning three days and two nights from August 5th. Kicking off with the 8th Anak Sarawak Award at the Imperial Hotel, this celebration unites industry partners in a sharing and education forum at the Grand Margherita Hotel followed by a series of site inspections, workshops and an excursion into Sarawak’s greatest tourism asset; the Rainforest World Music Festival.

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