Sarawak Convention Bureau
UP UNTIL 20 years ago, business events were unchartered territory within Sarawak and Malaysia as a whole. In 2006 the Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) was established with a small and creative team that has pioneered the business events (BE) we can see in the state today.
Branching out from its humble beginnings of providing professional advisory services to meeting planners in 2006, the Bureau has enabled the business events profession to soar to new heights through positioning Sarawak as one of the leading second tier destinations in the Asia-Pacific.
In the present day after 11 years of tremendous effort by a consortium of parties, including government agencies, enthusiastic hosts and industry partners, Sarawak is now perfectly poised as a top business travel destination. The Bureau is well recognised as a top player among its international counterparts and has truly progressed an industry that is in its infancy within Malaysia.
Amelia Roziman, Chief Operating Officer at the Sarawak Convention Bureau tells us about current developments and explains the exciting times ahead for the state.
Q Asia Outlook (AsO): Since inception, how has Sarawak Convention Bureau developed and progressed in terms of its key objectives and the messages it tries to get across?
Amelia Roziman (AR): Sarawak fully embodies the concept of ‘business meets adventure’ and is fully capable of delivering bold, fresh perspectives to conferences that can never be obtained anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, according to ICCA standards, SCB has positioned Sarawak as one of the leading 2nd tier destinations of the Asia-Pacific. We are consistent with our message to the world, and our invitation is always open!
The undertaking of the 55th ICCA Congress saw Sarawak as the ‘mouse that roared’. When the Sarawak team won the bid to host last year's ICCA Congress, one of their promises was that they would share the secrets of their success with the delegates, and be an inspiration for the many smaller destinations that are struggling to be heard and seen in today's crowded market. Its active three-pronged BE Campaign: communicating, educating and awarding ensures the BE ecosystem thrives! Ongoing business promotion, product development and recognition are essential elements for players to expand their businesses. The constant strive towards excellence will ensure the longevity of the BE industry.
Q AsO: To this end, how would you say Sarawak Convention Bureau has developed in recent years as a business travel hub and what are the key reasons behind its growing appeal?
AR: Primarily we have found that SCB has become a major factor in helping to develop Sarawak - the destination - as a business travel hub.
We do this by being a one-stop centre to assist meeting and event planners to bid for and stage national, regional and international business events in Sarawak. SCB has developed its business arm as well, by connecting associations, corporate organisations, and government bodies with elements necessary to ensure success of the events. This business matchmaking service indirectly creates a foundation for future international business relationships to take place. Lastly, we have helped Sarawak to develop its international brand, via our own unique and creative branding campaigns.
We believe aligning consistency with creativity guarantees progress. The Bureau is constantly trying to push the envelope and explore how to make conventions, ‘unconventional’. That very notion in itself is part of the growing appeal of Sarawak as we re-imagine the boardroom and fringe events of conferences for example, which are carefully planned and enthusiastically executed. Couple this fire with the unique values of Sarawak – for example, a lush green jungle next to a modern city is hard to come by in other parts of the world – and the warm hospitality of the Sarawakians. With those factors in play, you get a conference that is not only tremendous value for money but truly unique.
Q AsO: Taking a more general industry stance, how would you evaluate the tourism sector in Sarawak now compared to its condition when the Convention Bureau began?
AR: The tourism sector has always flourished under the direction of the Ministry of Tourism and Sarawak Tourism Board. A prime example would be the homegrown Rainforest World Music Festival which is now a worldclass icon.
I believe the way to imagine the tourism landscape here is to envision a wide field that has different species blossoming at any one time or together. In this sense, tourism encompasses many different segments, from medical tourism to ecotourism to business events (previously known as the ‘MICE’ sector). Recognising the importance of value beyond economics in today’s world, business events as a natural consequence will bring about a model which is sustainable for years to come. Hence, upon the induction of SCB, a new segment within the existing industry began to soar and has become a viable contributor to the State as we know it.
Q AsO: What is in store for Sarawak over the course of 2017 and beyond to continue the good work already commenced and to enhance its reputation as a tourism and business travel hub further in the future?
AR: With 2017 encroaching into its last quarter it will ride on the momentum of the Bureau’s boldest campaign to date; Redefining Global Tribes (RGT). Looking into the future, as a destination with unique offerings, the RGT with its Tribal Warrior Challenge (TWC) at its peak has rallied the global tribes of BE.
It has established that we have developed further from the success of the 55th ICCA Congress 2016 and entering our next phase of the game. By being the host of the industry’s most prestigious meeting of meetings, we have opened up to the world. Sarawak and its numerous tribes want to unite with the world under one single ‘’Global Tribe’ in the name of Business Events.
More than 10 years have passed since the Bureau’s inception. Now, we want to position Sarawak as more than just a “fresh destination”. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to make a bold statement and with RGT we believe we have accomplished just that. In a numbers game, we have acquired business leads and this has ignited our spark to continue to elevate Sarawak as a tourism and business travel hub. The Bureau with its longstanding BE Sarawak Campaign will soon see the preparations for the 9th Anak Sarawak Awards 2018, which will shine the spotlight on the industry’s gamechangers
Q AsO: The theme for your campaign is “Join Sarawak in the revolution for Business Events communities to gather in unity to construct a stronger identity for Malaysia’s economy”. What revolution is SCB referring to, and why is Sarawak taking the lead for Malaysia?
AR: It is common knowledge that Sarawak Convention Bureau is the pioneering bureau in Malaysia, and we have always pushed the envelope and taken the road less travelled with unconventional and creative ideas. So, as Sarawak has always been leading the pack in this sector, why shouldn’t it be Sarawak to take the lead for Malaysia? We have the resources, we have the capacity, and we have attracted global international Business Events, without diluting our culture and heritage. Sarawak fosters it business relationships with care and interest in the people, resonating with the humane side of business. We pour our heart and soul into our hospitality. That has always been a constant catalyst in our campaigns. For example, Redefining Global Tribes is focused on the very human values of community, unity and identity.
It is through recognising the key values and synergy we share with our partners, that we are able to construct a stronger identity for our sector in the global economy.