Collaborations between the Malaysian Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (MACEOS) and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) are driving up the potential of Sabah as a key business events destination in Malaysia.
The organising of exhibitions, conferences, meetings, and incentive tours can have lasting, positive impacts on the socioeconomic standing of a destination, and both government and tourism industry leaders in Sabah are strongly in favour of accelerating its development in the state.
YB Datuk Joniston bin Lumai @ Bangkuai, State Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Sabah, welcomes the partnership, saying: “Business events play an important role in connecting industry leaders and accelerating innovation through information and ideas.”
Mr. Francis Teo, President of MACEOS, was confident that Sabah had all the factors to succeed, saying: “The business environment here in Sabah is vibrant and ready for growth. Sabah has the potential to go far, and MACEOS is prepared to work with the industry stakeholders to support its goals and strategies in developing Sabah as a preferred business events destination in Malaysia.”
He added: “Through our previous engagement with industry players here, we’ve seen the interest and commitment of Sabah to build a favourable environment that would attract local, regional and international meetings and conferences and incentive groups. Everyone from the government, the state tourism board, the private sector, and the academia has been very supportive and keen to enhance Sabah’s position as a business events destination. For MACEOS, the buy-in from everyone is critical towards gaining the confidence of event organisers to consider Sabah as their next business events destination.”
As the state’s tourism marketing and promotion body under the purview of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, STB is a key advocate of business events in Sabah, with several initiatives in place to support its development.
YB Datuk Joniston, who is also Chairman of STB, said: “In the effort to enhance professional networks for the destination and create a legacy for current and future industry in Sabah, “SABAH, BE here for you” was initiated by STB in 2020 to provide incentive support to business event organisers and to maximise the potential of business events. The incentive is specifically for events that constitute corporate meetings, incentive groups, business events and exhibitions. The types of support are applicable to physical, hybrid and virtual events up to a maximum of RM100,000. A total of 14 events to date have benefitted from the BE incentive, with a payout of more than RM100,000. STB will continuously foster a strong network and engagement among our BE players to strive for more international and national events.”
In addition, MACEOS has been working closely with STB to restore the business events sector post-pandemic. Among the initiatives rolled out was the Congress Certification Programme (CCP) in Sabah since 2021, which has up-skilled 91 Sabah participants, certifying them as events specialists with the knowledge and skills to bid for events.
Teo was in Sabah leading a MACEOS delegation on a familiarisation trip which also saw the appointment of Datuk Hajah Rosmawati Haji Lasuki, J.P, CEO of Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC), as Sabah Region Chair for MACEOS, signalling the association’s strengthened presence in Sabah and its intention to work closely with industry partners.
Datuk Hajah Rosmawati viewed the appointment as an opportunity to strengthen the business events capacity and capability among Sabah stakeholders; creating economic value for the state. “MACEOS is a good platform for the tourism industry players to be a part of, as this provides a good opportunity for us to build the BE community in Sabah,” she said.
“A thriving industry is critical for sustaining economic development and creating jobs. This is something that the Sabah government recognises, and we are committed to working closely with the relevant stakeholders to create an enabling environment for the industry to grow and prosper. This includes working with educational institutions to ensure that students have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the industry. We are confident that these steps will create an environment where the industry can thrive and contribute meaningfully to Sabah’s economic growth,” she added.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed between SICC and local hoteliers and academia, underlining its collaboration in shaping an engaged Sabah business events community and promoting Sabah as a preferred business events destination. With the MoU, a more focused effort will be made to accelerate industry growth, destination promotions, and boost job creation to maintain employment stability.
Teo said: “We see the potential of Sabah to grow as a leading business events destination. The public sector is supportive, and the industry players here are keen to upskill themselves, the facilities are sufficient, and of course, Sabah’s hospitality is welcoming. It has breathtaking natural attractions, diverse cultures and unique food traditions. These all make Sabah a very special, exotic, and appealing destination for any meeting, event or incentive trip.”