Venue sector appeals for Motac’s backing to reopen in Phase 2

Professionally-managed purpose-built venues with flexible space are enabled to cater to multiple events at one time in a very controlled and regulated environment

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by TMR FILE

MALAYSIA’S venue sector has appealed to the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) for its assistance to save the sector by allowing purpose-built venues to resume operations and in extension reopen the business events industry in Phase 2 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

On behalf of the sector, the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre GM Alan Pryor (picture) said that the Business Events Council Malaysia (BECM) has submitted an appeal letter accompanied by a letter of support from six purpose-built venues with regards to this matter and is hoping for a positive outcome.

He said professionally-managed purpose-built venues with flexible space are enabled to cater to multiple events at one time in a very controlled and regulated environment.

“Notably, the collective industry has never been associated with a cluster, yet we have been closed for the majority of this year and remain unable to host even fully virtual events or command centre work.

“Many venues began operating as vaccination centres which are also gradually closing or shrinking operations,” he said in a statement.

In 2020, the industry unanimously demonstrated how business events can continue to be conducted efficiently and safely in a strictly controlled environment based on the approved standard operating procedures, successfully distinguishing itself apart from general mass gatherings and paving the way to industry reopening.

Pryor said the sector now being closed till Phase 4 is detrimental to the already faltering livelihoods and survival of the workforce.

He also stated that Malaysia’s visibility as a premier business events destination is declining as many of its regional and international counterparts are actively resuscitating their business events sector, recognising how business events as an industry is a powerful and sustainable economic driver of recovery.

“It is more crucial than ever that Malaysia recognises the business events industry beyond the aspect of the congregation.

It is evident that our regional neighbouring countries understand the high economic and social values contributed by the industry and its importance in a healthy economy.

“Around us, countries are mobilising business events to support their nations’ post-pandemic recovery agenda and we simply cannot be left behind when Malaysia has so much value to offer as a compelling meeting destination,” Pryor concluded.

In a separate statement, BECM acting chairman Datuk Vincent Lim said there is no reason to keep the business events sector closed when the arts and creative industries, including cinemas, art galleries and museums, can be reopened in the final quarter of 2021.

With the national vaccination rollout now approaching 80% and going strong, Lim said the sector cannot afford to sit back any longer, adding that business events require a minimum of three months to plan, promote and execute an exhibition.

“Reopening the sector now allows us a chance to catch up with the rest of the world in planning. If we wait any longer, we will lose out to other global cities that are also bidding for a stake of the industry, such as Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia,” he said.

He noted that the sector is a key contributor to the economy and has generated over RM27.5 billion to the GDP in 2019 alone.

Business events create jobs and generate millions of revenues for other industries such as tourism, hospitality, food and beverage, and transportation.

Lim further stressed that as a significant contributor to the economy, the business events industry needs to be re-categorised as an economic activity of the country under the NRP.