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Sarawak is proving to be a powerhouse for business events

Sarawak is proving to be something of a powerhouse when it comes to maximising the impact of business events on the community. Angela Antrobus reports…

They say if you want a job done ask a busy person and Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak) functions in a similar way. The more business events it secures, the more it works to get the most out of those events to benefit the local community and the more it looks for ways to stretch its activities further.

Sarawak is located on the island of Borneo and is the largest of Malaysia’s 13 states. The capital is Kuching where the energetic, expanding BESarawak team is based.

BESarawak has commissioned a study to measure the long-term impact of business events. UCSI University Sarawak and Universiti Teknologi MARA Sarawak are carrying out the research with meetings industry advisory company GainingEdge as project consultant. “The study will help us determine how business event legacies contribute to the socio-economic development of the state and to present the case of business events to the state government,” says Amelia Roziman, COO BESarawak. “Ultimately, the study will also assist us in attracting more business events to Sarawak.”

Obviously winning more business events last year than ever before in its 13-year history wasn’t sufficient!

On top of that, BESarawak won the Chief Minister’s Industry Excellence Award, the first time it’s been officially recognised at such a prestigious state level. It was announced Malaysia’s first convention bureau to win a BrandLaureate Award for Nation Branding – MICE by The World Brands Foundation which recognises organisations and individuals who have impacted the community at large. And, in January, it signed an MOU with PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) to drive social and economic transformation through business events, making Sarawak the first second-tier destination to partner with PCMA.

Sarawak also has aspirations as an association hub and last year the Business Events Sarawak Association Centre (BESAC) was formed to encourage associations to open regional offices in the state. The first partner to sign up was the Federation of Chinese Physicians & Acupuncturists Associations of Malaysia, headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, which set up the new office to reach out to spinal health practitioners in the Asia Pacific region and grow the Malaysian sector. “This is the leap that will propel the business events industry,” said Roziman. “The support from the State Government and local communities empowers the industry so this will inspire and encourage more associations to do the same.”

A change of scene for scientists

Sarawak

APPC group photo inside the BCCK.

The chance to experience a different environment was surely one reason that more delegates than expected signed up for the 14th Asia-Pacific Physics Conference (APPC14) last November. It was held in the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), Sarawak’s first purpose-built convention centre. Since it opened in 2009, thousands of delegates have benefited from its combination of professionalism, modern facilities, tranquil riverside location and tropical rainforest backdrop.

Kurunathan Ratnavelu, chairman of the organising committee, says, “We chose BCCK because it has a really unique Sarawakian design that the international participants would appreciate. It also had more than enough meeting rooms and space to host our conference. Access is easy and its pricing is competitive.”

The scientific objective of the triennial conference is to provide a forum for interaction involving world-renowned researchers to stimulate interest in physics around the Asia-Pacific region.

APPC14 was hosted by the Malaysian Institute of Physics and organised by the Association of Asia-Pacific Physical Societies (AAPPS) together with, for the first time, its Plasma Physics, Astrophysics, Cosmology and Gravity and Nuclear Physics divisions. The 527 participants from 24 countries attended plenary, parallel and poster sessions and there was also an exhibition in the concourse area of BCCK.

Ratnavelu says they had great support from the Sarawak state government by way of subvention funding and they were very impressed by the BCCK’s management team: “They were very flexible with accommodating our various needs and changes prior to and during the event.”

Once the serious business was finished, delegates could take advantage of the many tours and day trips offered by local travel agent CPH Travel and discover the wonders of a destination they’d probably never visited before.

New venues

The CIDB Convention Centre Sarawak (CCCS) opened in 2018 in Kuching. Hailed as Sarawak’s first ‘smart building’ because of its special construction method, it’s surrounded by a lake and garden and its interior design includes elements from local Bidayuh and Iban cultures. The main hall accommodates up to 800 people and five meeting rooms seat from 10 to 100 people. It’s attached to a technical education and vocational training institute for young Sarawakians presenting event collaboration opportunities with associations related to the construction industry.

The new Sarawak Museum in Kuching, due to be completed at the end of the year, is said to be an architectural wonder. The five-storey development comprises 6,000 sqm of exhibition spaces, function rooms and auditorium spaces and the whole 40,000 sqm site could be used for large-scale business events.

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