Sabah urged to set up convention bureau to tap MICE market

KOTA KINABALU (Bernama) – The Sabah government has been urged to set up a specialised agency such as a convention bureau to help the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) handle the marketing and bidding to tap the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) market.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) President Datuk Tan Kok Liang in a statement yesterday said MATTA has expressed concern that the SICC would just be another ‘white elephant’ if it is not well-managed.

“It is crucial and imperative that the government set up a dedicated agency, such as a convention bureau, which is preferably directly under the purview of the Chief Minister’s Department or the Ministry of Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment, to tap the MICE market.

“Otherwise, without proper management, we are concerned that the SICC would be a white elephant if a specialised agency is not set up to begin marketing and bidding for a segment of this lucrative market. Bidding to secure major events is done at least two to three years in advance.

“In Malaysia, we have the Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau, the Sarawak Convention Bureau, the Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Shah Alam convention centres, and the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau that specialise in tapping the MICE market,” he said, commenting on a media article titled Banking on MICE Hopes.

Tan said with states like Johor and Pahang having recently announced plans to set up their own convention bureaus, the Sabah government should also set up a convention bureau for the SICC.

He noted that the SICC, upon completion, is expected to offer world-class fully functional facilities.

“But we fear that these facilities will be underutilised at the rate they are going. Between January and September 2018, Sabah recorded 33,613 people from 241 events, generating tourism receipts of RM82.6 million, with events held in existing major hotels,” he said.