Business Events Council Malaysia (BECM) has renewed its appeal to the government for sector support, and to align mutual economic recovery goals and strategies as part of its Covid-19 recovery plan.
The appeal comes on the back of Malaysia's 16 February announcement, extending its movement control order (MCO) for the states of Selangor, Johor and Penang as well as the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur until 4 March.
Event planners reported a 90% drop in revenue since the first movement control order was announced in March 2020. A recent BECM survey found that in the same period, due to the inability to operate, venues experienced at least a 85% decrease in events, resulting in a 75% plunge in overall revenue compared to the previous year. As such, cashflow problems persist, and employee wages, building utility and maintenance payments continue to be a worry.
BECM chairman, Alan Pryor, said: "2020 was a tragic year for the industry and it continues to be so as the industry is unable to operate in line with government restrictions. With vaccines finally coming within reach, giving way to herd immunity, potentially allowing us to put the uncertainties behind us, the pent up demand for meetings, conferences and business events will supersede the supply.”
More than just a space for events, Pryor believes convention centres are important infrastructure assets that will drive national economic recovery.
“Meetings, exhibitions and events, being an effective means of attracting world leaders and decision makers for intellectual and financial capital investments, are platforms used by the private and public sectors to promote local innovation expertise and exports to the global audience and provide professional development opportunities for Malaysians.
“We plead the government to place the same level of confidence in the industry again, allowing us to operate in a phased approach, in an effort to stimulate our cities and local businesses, economically," he said.
In a 2018 report by the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau, Malaysia's business events industry was expected to contribute RM3.9 billion (US$963 million) to Gross National Income in 2020, providing about 16,700 jobs.
This business events supply chain covers a broad spectrum: from hotels, destination management companies and tour operators to stand builders, contractors, retailers, local produce suppliers, and part-time staffers.
In 2019, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) conducted more than 1,500 meetings and events, and generated almost RM1 billion.
The sector reopened for a short while in 2020, which saw the development of new Covid-safe operating procedures, while KLCC also established a hybrid event studio.