Reopen Business Events to Rejuvenate Economy - MACEOS
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Reopen Business Events to Rejuvenate Economy

Reopen Business Events to Rejuvenate Economy


Kuala Lumpur, Sunday, 7 June 2020: The Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS) is calling for the Malaysian government to lift the current ban on business events. 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.

This urgent call was made by MACEOS after news of the reopening of night markets in Malaysia surfaced yesterday.

MACEOS president, Dato’ Vincent Lim, says: “We appeal to the Malaysian government to give us the green light to open for business, and we hope the decision will be made soon. If night markets can be allowed to operate, we feel that so should business events be permitted to reopen.”

Lim proposes 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.

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. “Business events is an interconnected industry. The economic benefits will be cascaded down to many sectors,” he says.

Business events to jumpstart Malaysian economy

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.

Lim explains: “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.”

Business events are not “mass gatherings”

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, he says.

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.

Lim explains: “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. 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.”

Industry SOP framework proposed

Led by the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), MACEOS collaborated with the Business Events Council Malaysia (BECM) has submitted to the government a key piece of document that it hopes would assure authorities and the public of the industry’s preparedness in minimising health risks: a comprehensive health and safety framework with best-practices from around the world as guidelines for organising business events and meetings in the new norm. These measures are also in accordance with the Malaysian Ministry of Health’s regulations, and cover several key protocols such as sanitisation of venues, health checks of delegates, crowd control, procedures for contact tracing, social distancing measures, and more.

“We are keen to see our submitted SOP approved very soon. We would like to assure all key stakeholders — the government, the event delegates, the event supply chain, potential clients, and the public — that we are ready to cooperate with the authorities and regulators to reopen Malaysia for business events according to new and stricter health and safety regulations,” says Lim.

He says the sooner it is approved, the better. Business events take at least six months to twelve months to plan and implement. A clear decision from the government on the full reopening of the economy is critical to the planning and continuity of the business events industry.

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.