PETALING JAYA: Business events industry stakeholders are stepping up calls to the government to allow the sector to reopen and help them stay afloat.
Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (Samenta) chairman for policy and government relations Datuk William Ng said that in order for them to quickly rejoin the global supply chain, and secure raw materials and equipment, they need trade exhibitions and business conferences to reconvene.
“Internet sourcing is not as effective as physical trade shows in sourcing for new clients and vendors. We need to work harder to secure lost ground.
“The business event sector is not only important to the thousands of SMEs in the industry, but also as a catalyst and multiplier for the economy,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Most SMEs, he noted, are also struggling to reopen as the prolonged lockdown has resulted in a majority of them running out of cash and being forced to lay off employees.
Ng said many SMEs remain cautious despite the easing of restrictions.
“While businesses in the retail, food and beverage, manufacturing, construction and tourism sectors are now allowed to operate at various capacities, most SMEs are struggling to reopen.”
He also said operational restrictions have resulted in many global clients dropping Malaysian suppliers in favour of vendors from other markets.
World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur (WTCKL) group executive director Datuk Seri Dr Irmohizam Ibrahim said that if the industry is only allowed to resume operations in Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), it will be too late, as citizens are suffering not only from the pandemic, but also the state of the economy.
“It is impossible for us to keep holding on if the industry is not reopened under the condition of complying with the strict standard operating procedure (SOP).
“It can also be said that all industry players have been vaccinated as part of preparations to operate immediately, once allowed to reopen,” he said in a statement.
Irmohizam said WTCKL would be honoured if given the opportunity to participate in a trial towards the reopening of the industry in phases beginning October.
“We can also reopen with limitations of 50% attendance by visitors if given the opportunity,” he said.
Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), an agency under the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, also urged for the sector to be reopened as soon as possible for the fully vaccinated.“It is crucial for the government to understand that business events can operate safely and responsibly with strict compliance with the SOP,” MyCEB chief executive officer Datuk Seri Abdul Khani Daud said in a statement on Friday.
He said that since the start of the pandemic, Malaysia has recorded 57 postponements and 66 cancellations of international events.
“Despite these challenging times, MyCEB continues to work with the stakeholders in bidding for international events, whereby 164 business events have been secured from 2022-2030,” he said.
He added that the last few months also saw the business events industry acting as “frontliners” with about 20 purpose-built convention centres around the country having served the nation as mega vaccination centres.
“The business events industry must be reopened without further delay as Malaysia’s business events venues and facilities offer controlled environments to ensure both safe and successful events,” he said.
Other groups which have joined the growing call for reopening are the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers, and Business Events Council of Malaysia.