Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri has identified MICE tourism as the key to reopening Malaysia to foreign arrivals, and is raising the shutters on various business events and infrastructure that had been closed or postponed due to Covid-19. Her team is continuing to explore solutions for a wider return to normal tourism operations in Malaysia, with plans for potential ‘green zone’ destinations moving forward.
Shukri was speaking at an event hosted by the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), following the launch of the Malaysia Business Events Week 2020. She praised the group for its efforts to rebuild the travel and trade industry, especially through initiatives such as the Meet in Malaysia campaign, Exhibition Enhancement Package, Fifth Tactical Malaysia Twin Deal and Homegrown Event Support. She commented that, in spite of disruption caused by Covid-19, the outlook for the business event industry in Malaysia was still “positive”.
“I would like to urge all industry players to fully take this opportunity to kick-start their businesses again,” said the minister. MyCEB chief executive Abdul Khani Daud added that local companies were encouraged to support the meetings and events industry, as a first step in tourism getting back on its feet.
Malaysia has targeted MICE tourism as a safe and manageable bubble in which to revive its tourism fortunes. The existing infrastructure is steadily being reopened to host corporate events delayed by the pandemic. “Many events that were due to take place in Malaysia have been postponed instead of being cancelled,” explained Shukri during her speech. “The number of events secured and supported by MyCEB looks promising, with only 24 of them cancelled and 64 postponed,” she added.
Shukri and her ministry are currently developing a concept paper alongside several other relevant ministries, with a view to making a roadmap for reopening. This planned revival would be based around a travel bubble scheme, though she insists this will need to be considered carefully before anything can be confirmed.
“We need new ways of looking at travel bubbles, based not just on countries but maybe on destinations like (between) islands (of other countries),” said the minister. Part of the plan’s development will include mutual agreements between countries involved, along with rigorous SOP to ensure the safety of travellers and the capacity for containment of any further outbreaks.
In addition to MICE tourism and reciprocal green lanes with countries like Singapore, Malaysia is also planning on reopening “niche” tourism sectors such as golfing, diving and eco-adventure, with specific Covid-19 safety protocols in place to ensure controlled and safe travel. Shukri’s plan is currently under discussion with other ministries such as the health, home and foreign ministries as well as the National Security Council.