THE MICE industry in Penang is expected to recover from the Covid-19 crisis from September this year.
Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) chief executive officer Ashwin Gunasekeran said PCEB was optimistic that the national-level MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) in the state could recover soon.
“We expect the MICE industry in Penang to recover earliest by September; provided everything goes well, and if the standard operating procedures (SOPs) are followed and the number of Covid-19 cases remains low.
“As for international events, it would depend on several factors which include connectivity. We hope to receive international-level conferences next year,” he said after the launching ceremony of the Next Normal Guidelines for Business Events Penang at Setia SPICE Convention Centre today.
Ashwin revealed that Penang has received a confirmation for a national-level exhibition in September.
On the Next Normal Guidelines for Business Events Penang, Ashwin said the SOPs are divided into six sectors, namely, venues and convention centres, hotels, unique venues, destination management company (DMC) and transportation, professional conference organisers (PCO) and exhibition organisers, and event and exhibition suppliers.
“Everyone came together and agreed to the SOPs hence there will be no confusion. We have also gotten the approval from the Health Department,” Ashwin said.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the guidelines were aimed at instilling confidence in organisers, so that they are confident to host events in Penang.
“It is to be seen as a concerted effort, led by the government and supported by the various stakeholders and industries.
“We must work together and project a united front to show that we are ready to accept MICE events in Penang that are subjected to the SOPs that have been developed,” Chow said.
He added that event organisers would be thinking of new ways to organise events with regard to the new norms.
“The state welcomes organisers to consider the ‘hybrid’ method when hosting an event. The ‘hybrid’ method can benefit participants who can be physically present at an event and those who can only attend the event virtually.
“The organiser can reach out to a wider target audience if he practises the ‘hybrid’ method (utilising the online platform while hosting his event).
“We can reach out to an unlimited number of participants via online,” he said.
Earlier, Chow commended the efforts of the frontliners who have worked extremely hard to control the Covid-19 outbreak.
“The police, the National Security Council, Health Department, Immigration Department and many more, have done their best, risked their own lives and their loved ones, to keep Penangites safe.
“As a result, the number of Covid-19 cases in Penang is among the lowest in the country, with only one death confirmed. With Penang having a population of about 1.8 million, this is indeed a commendable situation.
“Now that we are in the recovery phase, the state leadership is focusing and working relentlessly to strike a balance between public health and economic health.
“We have no intention of wavering from our Penang2030 vision while embracing the Next Normal,” he said.
Penang Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage Commitee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said the state government was glad that the country and Penang had been managing the impact of the pandemic well, despite facing challenges.
“The state has been proactive in enforcing strict public health and safety practises.
“We are also prepared to take on the recovery phase. We provide incentives and cash aids to the most vulnerable sections of the tourism industry,” he said.
Yeoh added that business events industry is a key contributing sector to the state’s tourism.
“Penang is a safe destination for everyone to travel to and we are positive that the tourism and business events industries in Penang will return stronger,” Yeoh said.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Alvie Cheng
Video by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi