An emerging destination on the island of Borneo, Sarawak is as diverse as it gets; distinctive languages, culture and lifestyles from almost thirty quite different ethnic groups blend harmoniously together to create this diverse yet closely united hospitable community. This is the region’s uniqueness and why the meetings industry globally became so interested in the last decade, making the state a top destination choice for associations worldwide, starting with ICCA which organized its 2016 congress there, and chose Sarawak again as its Asia Pacific Regional Hub for the 2020 edition of its annual event.
At the forefront
As the borders open again – those of Sarawak did on 1st April – there might be a need for planners to go to locations that offer something different to the more ‘traditional’ ones. The last two years have forced us to reevaluate how we treat and managed the world at large and Sarawak is in good place to put legacy and sustainability at the forefront, as it was rightly promoted recently.
In fact, if Sarawak clearly understands the impact of meetings – and the fact that they hugely boost regional economies – they want to focus on maximizing the ‘legacy impact’ of the meetings they host.
“Legacy impacts of business events are one of the key strategies to help achieve the Post COVID Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 goals under the tourism sector,” said Sarawak’s Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts and Minister of Youth, Sports and Entrepreneur Development, The Honourable Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah. “We strive to secure at least 50 per cent of the total bid wins from now until 2030 to be legacy-driven and beneficial to our sectors, economies, communities, environment, and policy transformations.”
But there’s more. Together with the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) Business Events Sarawak launched BEimpactful, a package by both bureaus (the only collaboration of this kind in the world?) for meeting planners to cushion the aftermath of COVID-19 on business events planning. The aim is to provide extended financial and in-kind incentives to conference organizers in general, and the good news is it is applicable for physical, hybrid, and homegrown national and international convention and exhibitions.
Speaking at the last BESarawak’s Tribal Gathering, which serves as a platform for BESarawak to discuss and share the latest strategic plans for the months and years to come with the state’s industry partners, The Honourable Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, said: “BESarawak and MyCEB are working closer than ever at higher levels of collaboration to drive Malaysia’s economic transformation and social development through business events. As our borders open again and given the high probability of international business events making their way back, we have decided to continue the Business Events Planners Incentivised Packages for this year – and this year only.”
Under Sarawak’s Post COVID-19 Development Strategy 2030, which was launched by the Premier of Sarawak in 2021, the business events sector has long been identified as a catalyst that can empower communities and conserve heritage, culture and biodiversity and development in all sectors. It’s no wonder, then, that the Business Events Planners Incentivised Packages have been prolonged for 2022 to give business events a much-deserved boost.
Last month’s Tribal Gathering was also the occasion for BESarawak to announce a few bid wins. Four major national and international conferences will soon make their way to Sarawak, including the Malaysian Institute of Food Technology, the Malaysian Society of Radiographers, IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (Malaysia) Society and the Malaysian Society of Anaesthesiologists (MSA) and the College of Anaesthesiologists, Academy of Medicine Malaysia.
These conferences are expected to attract an estimated 4,000 delegates to Sarawak; auguring well for Sarawak’s efforts to align with international objectives and standards in measuring the intangible benefit of business events known as legacy impact.
As Amelia Roziman, CEO of BESarawak, concludes: “We see associations as our tribal ally; integral to the global tribes of business events. We explore many possibilities when we align ourselves with various associations. In addition to bring out the best in each association’s internal goals, we connect and facilitate associations with government agencies and local partners in an effort to create sustainable impact beyond the immediate economic one.”