Penang draws up industry taskforce to kickstart recovery

It will draft new standard operating procedures focusing on hygiene and safety to ensure domestic events can restart safely

It might take a year before Penang will see events partially return in a hybrid state. Credit: Getty images

PENANG - Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) has appointed key industry players to a new taskforce that will draft new standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure domestic events can restart safely.

The move comes as Penang was declared a 'Green Zone' since 8 May, as it had gone 14 days without recording a single new case of the coronavirus and more businesses have gradually begun opening in this Conditional Movement Control Order phase.

Speaking during a webinar titled Next Normal for Business Events Penang, PCEB CEO Mr Ashwin Gunasekeran said that the taskforce has been set up. It will be conducting pockets of meetings to draft the necessary factors that are to be listed in the SOP over the next two weeks.

The taskforce comprises representatives from each segment of the industry, including hotels, venues, PCOs, DMCs and logistics providers. The tentative date it expects to publish the new SOPs is end-June.

"In order to have domestic events to restart safely, the upcoming SOPs will focus on additional hygiene and safety precautions and preparations that are to be adhered accordingly. These are also enhanced together with the existing event management processes for pre-event, operational, and post-event," said Mr Gunasekeran.

He expects that it will take at least a full year for business events to recover.

"It will be a tall order to expect business to Penang within six months. You will have to look at the readiness of the supporting value chain, such as airlines and cruises, and what extent they are ready to operate. It will take a good one year before events can partially return in a hybrid state, before easing into live events," he said.

To date, Penang has seen the cancellation of five events and the postponement of 45 events for 2020. To pave the way towards a gradual recovery, PCEB has also presented a three-year rejuvenation plan from 2021-2023.

This includes enhancements to its Privilege Penang Support Programme 2021-2023 for association meetings, corporate meetings and incentives, which will be made available on PCEB's website on 22 May. It will also look into collaboration with partners within Southeast Asia and digitalising business events through a series of online engagement and education events.

Currently, the bureau remains focused on maintaining destination and product branding efforts to customers, recently launching the #HereForTomorrow campaign.

PCEB's taskforce will complement Tourism Penang Next Normal Taskforce, a special taskforce that has been formed by the Penang state government to coordinates policy efforts for tourism amid the crisis.

The state is also working on a Tourism Recovery Action Plan (TRAP) to boost domestic and international tourism, continuing with its Experience Penang Year branding, with greater focus on digitalisation and innovation.

The ministry will be working with its marketing arm, PCEB, to build and attract more national meetings to Penang, with the next phase to target regional Asia Pacific events, followed by global meetings and incentives.

Key markets in the region include China, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, India and Japan. It will look into organising roadshows, carry out join association meeting bids and sales calls and travel association conferences.