. Penang makes strides in MICE despite coronavirus pandemic | Meetings & Conventions Asia

Penang makes strides in MICE despite coronavirus pandemic

Decisive moves by local government and bureau sees the Malaysian state make a strong showing for future events — both domestic and international.

The introduction of industry-led ‘Next Normal Guidelines for Business Events' in Penang has helped to raise confidence across the state.
The introduction of industry-led ‘Next Normal Guidelines for Business Events' in Penang has helped to raise confidence across the state. Photo Credit:Getty

PENANG – Penang is safe and has been proactive in its response to Covid-19, and has the full compliance of event industry stakeholders and the public.

That’s the message from Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) CEO, Ashwin Gunasekaran, who says that industry members are constantly being updated on the bureau’s and the state’s plans for the industry and the measures in place to keep the state safe.

He adds that they provided social media support for Penang hotels to promote their offerings during and after Malaysia's lockdown, known as the Movement Control Order (MCO). There is also an enhanced event support programme, known as Privilege Penang, for domestic and international business events from 2021 to 2023, starting as low as 20 pax.

The introduction of ‘Next Normal Guidelines for Business Events' in Penang in July (which are updated according to Health Ministry revisions) has helped to raise confidence across the state.

For the launch of Penang's Next Normal Guidelines a meeting was simulated with the SOPs in place.
For the launch of Penang's Next Normal Guidelines a meeting was simulated with the SOPs in place. Photo Credit: PCEB

According to Gunasekaran, the focus right now is on domestic business events, and providing specialised support for organisers.

“One of our bigger [events] is a 250-300 pax educational conference by a Malaysian university. We have also had smaller corporate meetings and board meetings from financial institutions, banking and insurance sectors,” Gunasekaran says.

He adds that Penang was fortunate that out of 50 domestic and international events scheduled for this year, 45 were re-scheduled to next year and 2022. The first confirmed international event is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers conference, which is set to take place in January 2021.

Of the 3,762 events in 2019, 65% were corporate meetings, 25% were association congresses, and 10% incentives.

“Association meetings continue to rise in Penang as the State Government is gearing on Penang 2030 — birthing legacies for the communities, and with this we are confident that the Penang will be able to rebuild the association meetings segment in due time.”

Moving forward PCEB, has won bids for events up to 2023 and the prospects are very positive, notes Gunasekaran, because Penang is considered safe and able to provide a seamless and extraordinary experience, and friendly and flexible arrangements.