Sarawak is expected to make great strides in economic development in the next few years. In tandem with this growth, the event management scene in Sarawak is in a prime position to step up to the next level as local players seek industry synergy and the state receives increasing international attention. BizHive Weekly explores the outlook, prospects and challenges of the industry that is coming to the fore.
Sarawak’s event management sector to see massive growth
Sarawak has seen tremendous potential in economic growth over the next few years given massive catalysts in the form of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), the state’s infrastructure works and sectors such as oil and gas and plantation.
According to Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd, Sarawak has been growing at an average growth rate of less than five per cent annually in the past 20 years.
“Realising that it has plentiful supply of sustainable energy, namely hydroelectric, as well as mineral sources like oil, natural gas and coal, it has embarked on a long-term plan to fully utilise it for economic growth and development, as well as improving the quality of life.
“In recent years, Sarawak has increasingly become the focus of major economic developments, thus enhancing its role as one of the main contributors to the nation’s growth,” it said
“Currently, Sarawak contributes about eight per cent to Malaysia’s overall real gross domestic product (GDP) growth,” the bank said in citing the State Planning Unit’s figures.
“At the rate the Sarawak economy is going, the state could be among the top three largest contributors to Malaysia’s economic growth in the next few years. Its contribution towards Malaysia’s total GDP could increase to slightly more than 10 per cent from its current 7.5 to eight per cent share,” the bank opined.
In tandem with these significant growth nodes would arise great potential in the event management sector as more government initiatives, foreign direct investment, joint ventures, memorandums of understanding lead to institutional functions, seminars, forums and workshops needing to be organised and executed here.
As such, this particular segment here would be in a prime position to step up to the next level as local players would need to seek industry synergy to take on the volume gain and rising international standards given the increasing national, regional and global attention.
Of particular importance would be business tourism in the form the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry where large groups up to several thousand persons would visit the state and provide enormous economic gains to supporting businesses and entrepreneurships.
“Events support tourism, big or small. In the travel and tourism line, MICE is the biggest tourism sector,” said UCSI Communications Sdn Bhd managing director Gracie Geikie during an interview with BizHive Weekly.
“If we talking about people movement, one MICE event is already 2,000 delegates. If half of them are international, that’s one thousand people coming in to spend for four or five days.”
She pointed out that one big event had a significant economic impact on supporting industries businesses such as transportation, food and beverage, venue suppliers, arts and crafts, souvenirs, tour operators and so on.
As such, event management and planning organisations here in the state would be of great comprehensive importance on the local economy given the monetary ‘ripple effect’ these events had on the local economy.
Meanwhile, Events Horizon managing director Jason Chew opined that Sarawak had a lot of potential for greater development of the MICE industry given the vast number of possibilities.
“The Rainforest World Music Festival, which has been successfully run for many years, has definitely set the bar on what can be achieved here in Sarawak.
“With the government willing to give support for this event and ensuring its success, why can’t we do it?” he asked rhetorically.
He added that companies and individuals (as well as newcomers) needed to tune in to the current requirements of the industry and work hard for the gains and rewards to be had.
Borneo TRUevents Sdn Bhd managing director cum ‘chief eventor’ Silas Michael Martin told BizHive Weekly that he firmly believed in market creation rather than market share.
“There’s no point in having a big share of the market if it is a small market. You have to create a market and create market demand at the same time,” he highlighted, adding that the company’s team had spent a lot of time to get the name out and focus on branding.
Sarawak had definitely come to the fore as the Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) had maintained its successive streak in securing over 50 conventions to Sarawak in 2011.
According to a press release, these conventions were expected to deliver 96,000 delegate days and over RM59 million in direct delegate expenditure.
The SCB’s maiden appearance last year at IMEX America, the US’ worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meeting and events, has set the stage for the entire industry to grow and evolve in tandem with Sarawak’s great strides in economic advancement.