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"Driver for social and economic transformation"

Business Events Sarawak looks back to 76 events in 2019, making that its most successful business year ever, and they now have high hopes for cooperation with PCMA and its new Legacy Impact Programme.

y vision is to make Sarawak a prominent driver for social and economic transformation in Asia. By standing with PCMA to deliver high impact business events." These were the words of Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Minister of Tourism, Art, Culture, Youth and Sports in the Cabinet of Sarawak in Malaysia, when he on January 7, 2020 announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak) and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). This happened at the Convening Leaders in San Francisco at the annual kick-off event staged by the PCMA, with more than 7,000 members one of the biggest and most important associations in the event universe. When Sherrif Karamat, PCMA President and CEO, opened the conference, he repeatedly emphasized the PCMA's vision: "We drive global economic and social transformation through business events."

That the visions are so similar to each other is one of the reasons for the MoU agreed by both organizations. "This agreement with Business Events Sarawak is completely aligned with PCMA's vision and growth, as both organizations share the same goal — to demonstrate how business events transform societies, businesses and communities," said Karamat. To achieve this objective, Minister Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah has a vision for developing synergy effects between convention and tourism sectors: "Merging this industry with tourism can and will strengthen our economic impact. However, there is a greater cause than the dollars and cents we make. It is the community."
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Business Events Sarawak came with a 23-person delegation to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with PCMA.


Sarawak is the largest of 13 states in Malaysia on the northwestern tip of Borneo. Its capital city of Kuching has more than 630,000 inhabitants, its airport is linked to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) providing direct flight services to more than 80 destinations – nine of these in Europe. The Convention Bureau Sarawak offers its members support in convention bidding, helps planners develop and stage events, organize delegate acquisition, and choose appropriate venues. With its new Legacy Impact Programme, Sarawak also features connecting associative factors to so-called Key Focus Areas including urban development, sustainability and digitalization.

BESarawak picked just the perfect time for communicating this cooperation at Convening Leaders to an audience of 4,600 event-staging pros from 40 countries. And that audience was packed with competency: four in ten listeners were convention planners, one of four Convening-Leaders participants was a C-Level-Executive, more than 400 were CEOs representing Cisco, Oracle and other top-notchers. It isn't quite that easy for so-called 2nd tier destinations to appear on the meeting maps of these corporations; the upcoming cooperation with PCMA is therefore really an important milestone for Sarawak.

The Memorandum of Understanding has a term of three years and is aimed at enhancing professionalization of the destination. One of the elements is the educational initiative 'TriBE: Innovation' founded by BESarawak. 22 service providers active in Sarawak's meeting industry have already graduated from the master class and are now eligible to earn their Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) certification. "Sarawak has already begun its quest to position business events as economic and community gamechangers in the region through the Legacy Impact Programme," is how the Tourism Minister explained the plan to use meetings as driver for venue development. In this context, key figures are collected and the effects on events analyzed in the four categories Advancing the Field, Community Benefits, Economic Outcomes, and Public Policy.
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The Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) has a gross floor area of 36,500 square metres.


Amelia Roziman, Chief Operating Officer, Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak)

tw: Sarawak is rather unknown to European event planners. Why should they learn more about Sarawak?
Amelia Roziman: An aspect that would be on a meeting planner’s mind is how secure and wellsupported their business event (BE) would be. We are also a culture hub comprising of 27 ethnic groups that celebrate diversity, an all-year round calendar of local and international festivals and a platter of local delicacies. However, what sets us apart from other destinations is the incorporation of our tribal wisdom into BE, defined by three values which are Unity, Community and Identity. These values are highly relevant as we seek for a deeper cause in our industry.

Do you have a certain strategy to land on the meetings map of international organizations?
We will be launching our two new reward programmes for associations and corporate meetings and incentives. We will also be releasing the results of the Legacy Impact Study at IMEX Frankfurt. The study is a 1-year commitment to understand how we are moving further with our Legacy Impact. BESarawak is also collaborating with major associations such as PCMA, UIA and the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers.

You mentioned the Legacy Impact Programme. What lies behind that approach?
It is undeniable that BE has an enormous impact on the economy and society regardless of its scale. The programme is designed to change the perspective of our stakeholders and industry at large to think beyond the dollars of BE and more into its intangible values. This requires educating stakeholders, industry players and clients to unite with our cause and support this movement. The government plays a big role in materialising legacy impacts of BE. We are blessed with the endless support of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Cultu- re (Sarawak) and also the Sarawak Government as a whole. In fact, we have the support of nontourism ministries and agencies due to the real significance of this programme and its objectives.

To position business events as economic and community game-changers in Sarawak you address certain categories. What are they?
These are seven Key Focus Areas (7KFAs) – e.g. digital economy, service industry or renewable energy – that BESarawak adopted from the Sarawak Government’s plans to develop the state as a progressive destination that is conscious of its community wellbeing and economy. Event theme and topics are lined up the 7KFAs against four pillars (Advancing the Field, Community Benefits, Economic Outcomes, and Public Policy) and its 27 drivers such as Infrastructure, Cluster Development, Exports and so on.

What are you aiming at with this Programme?
We want Sarawak to become the first of all 2ndtier destinations to be an advanced destination. For conventions and exhibitions, our vision is to change the landscape of BE whereby legacy impacts are widely accepted by stakeholders and its potential is being utilised for economic transformation and social development. When we commissioned the “Study on Hosting Conventions in Sarawak”, we selected 12 fitting conferences (with an estimate of 5,000 delegates in total) that would enable us to find a methodology on measuring the intangible outcomes of BE. Prior to the study, we have been measuring the outcomes based on the 7 KFAs and 4 pillars. We wish for the results to be part of a report that is to be accepted by the government and our industry partners.

Has this strategy already worked out (winning new conferences)?
Based on our soft launch in 2019, the impact has surpassed our sales target by 126%. The success rate of bidding is 90% and we have achieved 100% success to match every BE with at least one of the seven Key Focus Areas.

In recognition of this approach and strategy, BESarawak in November 2019 was honored with the BrandLaureate World BestBrands Award 2019 in Singapore. The prize conceptualized by the World Brands Foundation (TWBF) is awarded in appreciation of comprehensive marketing strategies – in case of the Convention Bureau for its 'Nation Branding – MICE'. The many years of activities to promote Sarawak as destination for corporate functions resulted in the campaign 'Magnified Impacts of Your Business Events', in which events are allocated to the government's seven so-called Key Focus Areas (7KFAs); these are urban development/redevelopment, social, agricultural, environmental and industrial development including the project SCORE in the domain of renewable energy, service industry and digital economy. One element of this campaign is the 'Legacy Impact Programme' referred to by Minister Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah. "Branding Sarawak as a reputable and capable Business Events destination has always been a challenge," said Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Muhammad Leo Toyad, Chairman of BESarawak. "Now, we stand on the same league with global trends in expanding the impacts of Business Events from tourism economics to creating legacies and making valuable changes. This will place Sarawak as a role model for 2nd and 3rd tier destinations."

This 'impact' led to successful bids for events – in 2020 these include the International Convention on Sports, Sciences and Management, the International Symposium on Environmental and Occupational Health (ISEOH 2020) and the Men’s Health World Congress (MHWC) – and impressive statistics. In 2019, Business Events Sarawak registered the most successful business year in its history. Chairman Toyad referred to "76 events and over 20 million euros in direct delegate expenditure (DDE) alone. This indicates the actual strength of Business Events on our economy and going forward, we are confident that the figures will increase exponentially." While the Convention Bureau is celebrating this success, Amelia Roziman, Chief Operating Officer of BESarawak, referred to a number of notable key figures produced by the Legacy Impact Programme. These show that 72.4% of all delegates prolong their sojourn after a congress in Sarawak and 98.4% of all visitors state to be satisfied with the destination. Roziman: "This industry is one of the most effective platforms to drive social and economic transformations. We want all business events to be community-conscious; that instigates maximum impact. The Legacy Impact Programme will bring this message home."

„It is undeniable that Business Events have an enormous impact on the economy and society.“
Amelia Roziman,
Business Events Sarawak