BUSINESS EVENT PLAYERS EYEING SABAH AS PROPECTIVE SITE FOR MAJOR EXPOSITION
Business event players eyeing Sabah as prospective site for major exposition
KOTA KINABALU: Interest from business event organisers to stage big expositions here is growing, bolstering the state’s status as a preferred site for trade shows.
Assistant Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said such heightened interest is also a call for industry participants to identify possible big events that Sabah may host.
“For years, we have been promoting the delights of Sabah’s natural and cultural beauty. We have brought recognition to Sabah for its magnificent Mount Kinabalu, its flora and fauna, and its underwater splendour.
“Now, one of our goals is to expand Sabah’s presence in the business events market. I must say that the Sabah International Convention Center (SICC) has paved the way for Sabah Tourism to expand this offering, giving our convention centre a competitive advantage in hosting large business or MICE events,” he said.
Joniston, who chairs the Sabah Tourism Board, was speaking at the Tourism Malaysia engagement session with Sabah tourism industry players here, on Thursday (July 7).
The engagement session, among other things, was aimed at providing Sabah tourism stakeholders with information about upcoming Tourism Malaysia international programmes.
Joniston said business event is another potential source of domestic and international tourists to the state, adding Tourism Malaysia could assist the Sabah Tourism Board in engaging with key players in the global business event market.
He also stated that his Ministry and Sabah Tourism have received multiple requests or expressions of interest from event players to conduct conferences or exhibitions in Sabah, the most recent of which is the Asia Dive Expo or ADEX, which is planned for next year if it goes forward.
“This is indeed an excellent opportunity, and we should be excited because this will be Malaysia’s first ADEX, with Sabah as the host. I’m sure the diving community and businesses are excited about this.
“Certainly, we will need the cooperation of Tourism Malaysia in promoting such an exhibition to the international market when this takes off, and collaboration with the Sabah Tourism Board and local industry players is essential,” he said.
To prepare industry players with required skills to organise significant events, Joniston said a Congress Certification Program 2.0 Advance Masterclass was recently conducted, in which 22 participants were certified.
This brings the total number of certified individuals to 88, and part of the Sabah Tourism Board’s Business Events goal is to train 200 people by 2025.
“Furthermore, the Sabah Tourism Board is constantly identifying new tourism products that are unique to Sabah and may pique the interest of visitors from all over the world.
“The continuous promotion of Sabah as a preferred destination not only for leisure but business travelling, especially during the pandemic, has been progressing well. This can be seen with the reopening of direct routes from major international cities and it bodes well for our hopes of a full recovery sooner than expected.
“Having said that, we also want to promote Sabah to long-haul markets, and we need Tourism Malaysia’s assistance in identifying potential routes and building demand from specific markets,” he added.
Since the reopening of Malaysia’s border on April 1 this year, Sabah has flights coming from Manila, Singapore, Bandar Seri Begawan, Bangkok, Incheon, and soon from Busan.
Present at the event were Tourism Malaysia Promotion Board deputy chairman Datuk Seri Dr Anil Jeet Singh Sandhu; Tourism Malaysia’s Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry senior director for international promotions (America, Europe and Oceania) Datuk Dr Ammar Abd Ghapar; Sabah Tourism Board chief executive officer Noredah Othman; and SICC chief executive officer Datuk Rosmawati Lasuki.