Business events players keen to work with govt to reopen industry


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PETALING JAYA: The country’s business events players are keen to work with the government in designing safety standard operating procedure (SOP) guidelines that will enable it to reopen the industry.

The Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS) newly elected president Francis Teo appealed to the Security Committee of the pandemic, namely, the National Security Council (NSC), Internal Security Ministry, International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti), Health Ministry and Finance Ministry to work with them and refine their SOPs so that they can make the comeback of business events a reality.

Teo said its expertise lies in organising and hosting large events, thus, assuring the authorities that their SOPs are based on their experience, professionalism and extreme mindfulness to balance lives and livelihoods.

“We are very thankful for the announcement that the NSC has principally agreed to allow the opening of business events, and also starting to look into opening the borders for Johor-Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak as well as Langkawi by January 2021. It is one of the best news we have heard from the year’s challenges in surviving, ” he said in a statement.

Teo said the industry players acknowledged the need for strict SOPs due to the precarious situation, of which, MACEOS has drafted an enhanced guideline for the industry, making sure that it adheres to the various levels of the movement control order (MCO).

The industry hired 33,000 permanent staff and engaged almost 60,000 part-timers at the peak. But as of December, Teo said the industry has suffered an estimated loss of RM2.25bil, as more than 1,550 business events have been cancelled or postponed due to the travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, MACEOS vice-president Datuk M Gandhi said about 17% of staff in the industry have been laid off and the sector is in a dire state.

“What is most important to the industry at the moment is certainty because we need to give different parties sufficient notice when we hold a business event. So, we must have certainty that these events will be carried out, ” he said.

Gandhi noted that business events played an important role in bringing businesses back together, given that the MCO has caused supply chains to be broken.

Assuming that the industry is allowed to resume on Dec 18 as announced, Gandhi is hopeful that business will pick up by the second quarter of next year. But recovery to the pre-Covid level will only come in 2023 as major events require time for planning and implementation and are fairly dependent on foreign participation for scale.

But in the longer term, Gandhi said there is a need to include the business events industry in the long-term plans of Malaysia like the 12th Malaysia Plan.

“Our neighbouring countries are already including business events in their national growth agenda. We shouldn’t lose out.

“There is a unique opportunity for the industry. The pandemic has created new business models like hybrid events, and there is technology to support these new models.

“We could do with some government incentives to spur the industry to innovate itself to be well positioned as it recovers. We can make Malaysia a hub if we have better infrastructure and efficiency.

“Business events are integral to the growth of businesses. Many SMEs depend on business events for their sales and survival. So, it is important that this industry continues to be in the long-term development plan of the country, ” Gandhi said.

Recently, industry players had gathered to highlight the plight of the industry through the #saveourconventioncentres initiative.

The initiative virtually gathered an estimated 500 industry players to draw a critical focus on the survival of business events through visual representations on social media.

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