Sarawak has been a leader in advocating the legacy created by business events, enjoying the government’s full support. Can you tell us more about your latest initiative, the International Journal of Business Events and Legacies (IJBEL)?
Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak) established the International Journal of Business Events and Legacies in partnership with Curtin University Malaysia and our academic strategic partners – Universiti Teknologi MARA and the Sarawak Research Society. This is the first journal in Southeast Asia to focus on business events, and the first in the world to merge business events and legacy topics under one title. The journal targets two sides; the practitioners (people in our industry) and academia. The university is familiar with producing such publications and have their own network with 44 global advisors and expert editors from 15 countries in Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, the Middle East and Oceania and we are tapping into that.
The reasoning behind the journal is to enhance knowledge for our industry, ranging from practitioners and researchers to consumers and policymakers, by tackling topics on business meetings, tourism, and legacies through major papers, reports and reviews.
Our partnership with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) makes sense since the association also advocates for the impact of business events. The collaboration helps us tap into ICCA’s network of associations, exhibitor producers, convention bureaus and venues for the purposes of the journal. The journal acts as a platform to inspire the business events sector and we invite all our strategic partners to contribute a relevant paper and let the world see what business events can offer. Τhe discussion of the paper will be centerstage at the ICCA Asia Pacific Summit, where there will be a panel session talking about legacy and the different issues of business events and the launch of the first printed journal.
Can you elaborate on the BEimpactful initiative and Sarawak’s recovery plan?
With our borders open since April 1, we wanted to continue providing support to business planners through the BEimpactful initiative. Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak) and the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) worked together to present a package of financial and in-kind incentives for physical, hybrid, and homegrown national and international conventions. These funds will continue into 2023 and will be complemented by the convention bureau’s marketing campaign Tribe Legacy Sarawak, a movement which advocates legacy through any kind of impactful tribe (community) activity.
Another part of the recovery plan is capacity building; currently Sarawak has the highest number of the industry partners providing international accreditation to business planners. Furthermore, there is a lot more association development; we have added one more new service to encourage associations to open their regional office or national office in Sarawak and we offer support to Sarawakians who wish to form a new association locally.
In general, our 10-year recovery strategy extends to 2030 and covers not only business events and tourism but rather all economic sectors as everything is interconnected.
Is sustainability a challenge for Sarawak?
Our government is one of the few that focus on eco-tourism and business events in the next 10 years and we try to develop home-grown conferences which will rotate in the region. We are glad to be part of the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index), where the discussion touches also social economy beyond tourism or business events.
The Sarawak Region (GDSI-Sarawak Partner) initiative and partnership is a world first for Malaysia but a logical one: the Index is fully aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination Criteria which is part and parcel of Sarawak’s Post COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) for Tourism.
We have now formed a Ministry of Green Energy and Sustainability with which BESarawak can now collaborate to track sustainability progress and innovation. The value of such collaborations will support every industry in Sarawak to adopt best practices of sustainability, not just business events.