Sarawak Business Travel Guide

Sarawak Convention Bureau

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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.

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