The Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS) is appealing to the government to lift the current ban on business events. Up until May, total losses reported by the industry amounted to RM1.75 billion with 1,250 business events affected, but it is now expected to be higher due to more business events cancellations and postponements as well as the extension on the Movement Control Order (MCO).
MACEOS president Vincent Lim said business events is an interconnected industry. Once the government permits business events to resume in the domestic market, Lim foresees that it will help to stimulate businesses for the local hotel, convention centre, food and beverage, and other related sectors.
If night markets can be allowed to operate, Lim said so should business events be permitted to reopen. The association has proposed a comprehensive framework to be adopted as the standard operating procedure (SOP) in the new norm to ensure business events safety and public health.
In addition, the association also a systematic plan for the gradual opening of business events beginning with the domestic market in this first phase immediately due to travel restrictions. The second phase would attract business travellers to Malaysia once international travel bans have been lifted.
In a statement, Lim said the economic benefits will be cascaded down to many sectors, adding that business events, due to its nature as a business-to-business meeting for transferring knowledge and building partnerships, can help jumpstart and revitalise the Malaysian economy quickly. This is another critical reason to support the reopening of the industry immediately
Furthermore, Lim explained that the business events industry is an important economic driver for the country. It provides jobs, income, and consequently, direct economic growth, across multiple business sectors such as accommodations, retail, food and beverage, logistics, property, and others. More than 33,000 Malaysians are employed directly and indirectly in the industry.
“The economic benefits will be cascaded down to many sectors,” he said.
He also notes that business events should not be categorised as “mass gatherings” since they are highly-controlled, carefully managed environments with stringent safety and security protocols in place.
“The current blanket ban on mass gatherings is obstructing potential economic growth contributed by business events,” Lim added.
Lim pointed out that Thailand’s exhibition and convention industry had already reopened since 1 June, while South Korea had brought back live events with the launch of the annual Korea Garden Landscape Expo on 2 June — with all protocols in place to ensure the wellbeing of everyone.
“Even before Covid-19, it has been an industry practice among business events industry professionals to ensure that every event implements the highest safety and security protocols, Lim explained.
“Due to the international and corporate nature of our events, our clients are highly risk-averse and Malaysian business events players have always operated with these security needs in mind. Under these new circumstances, we are willing and capable of implementing further-defined protocols to monitor public and personal health and safety.”
The association hopes the submitted SOP will be approved very soon, and they would like to assure all key stakeholders — the government, the event delegates, the event supply chain, potential clients, and the public — that they are ready to cooperate with the authorities and regulators to reopen Malaysia for business events according to new and stricter health and safety regulations.