Sarawak being groomed as international meeting destination

Sarawak, also known as ‘land of the Hornbills’, and popular for its natural splendor and colourful history, is now
being promoted as a Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) venue.

Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) has, through strategic planning, arranged for 18 international events to be held in Sarawak between 2011 and 2016, attracting at least 600 participants per event.

These events include the ASEAN Australian Engineering Congress (AAEC) event (25-27 July, and the Global Conference 2011 (30 Nov-3 Dec).

Some of the preferred venues for the MICE programme are the five-starred Pullman Hotel; Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching (BCCK); Damai Beach Resort; Sarawak River Cruise; and Four Point by Sheraton, Kuching.

A total of nine MICE events have been lined up for 2012, including the 50th MD 308 Lions Convention 2012. This will be held at the Pullman Hotel from 19-22 April, and will bring 2,000 participants.

Others events include the CDA/MDA 69th AGM Malaysia Dental Association Conference and Trade Exhibition 2012.

This will be held between 30 May and 1 June at BCCK, and will attract 3,200 participants. Additionally, the 9th World
Congress of Chinese Medicine 2012 (WCCM) will be held during 20-23 Oct, attracting 1,000 participants.

SCB’s chairman, Dr Muhamad Leo Michael Toyad Abdullah, said Sarawak is not in competition with Kuala Lumpur and other cities as a destination for MICE, since it has its own unique attractions.

“When they are looking for a new perspective, they can consider the Sarawak River Cruise, as it is unique.

They can watch the beauty of the sunset while cruising,” he said.

“This is about what is different in Kuching and not available elsewhere. It’s our focus. We can provide both river-cruise packages and rainforests, depending on what they are looking for,” he said.

Explaining the purpose of SCB, Dr Muhamad Leo said that the non-profit organization, established in 2006 by the state government, has a mandate to promote the state as a leading MICE destination.

Chief executive of SCB, Jill Henry, added that an estimated RM57 million will be spent by the attendees of business meetings here, between 2011 and 2016, based on the number of confirmed international association meetings.

A driving force in MICE-industry development in Sarawak, SCB does not, however, intend to stop at this figure. It is aiming for a larger slice of the global industry, worth RM11 billion.

Malaysia currently has a 1.1 per cent share of this pie. As the first agency created exclusively to promote the MICE industry in the state, SCB is confident the state has what it takes to achieve this objective.

The SCB recently confirmed it would host two association meetings in Kuching, namely, the 1st Regional Conference on Solar and Hybrid Energy, and the World Clown Association Annual Convention 2013. It has bid for another 45
events.

Henry said the conventions would promote Sarawak as a competitive new MICE destination.

– Bernama