Business events set for more losses on recurring MCO

Due to inability to operate, 100% of venues surveyed by BECM experienced at least a dramatic 85% decrease in total events with a minimum of 75% plunge in overall 2020 revenue

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MALAYSIA has gone through various recurring Movement Control Order (MCO) cycles in the first five months of 2021, a move that has cost the local business events industry billions.

Business Events Council Malaysia (BECM) chairman Alan Pryor told The Malaysian Reserve there’s no end in sight as business events are again facing cancellations and shrinkages due to the MCO.

“Kuala Lumpur has certainly lost a considerable amount of business, including some major events, either through cancellations or shrinkage. Where possible we try and maintain through postponing, but as MCOs keep reoccurring and no end in sight, these events too are at risk.

“The situation is dire. If a lockdown will assist, together with rollout of vaccinations, in reopening borders, then that is what we need,” he said.

Pryor affirmed that the industry has been “decimated since last year and literally billions have been lost” by the industry and the supply chain, as well as businesses closing and jobs lost.

According to a 2020 survey by the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS), business events industry players had experienced revenue losses of RM2.25 billion, a drop of 90%, since the MCO first started.

The same survey also showed a total of 5,610 employees had been laid off since March 2020, equivalent to 17% of the total industry workforce.

BECM conducted a sentiment sweep earlier this year to understand the current state of Malaysian venues since the pandemic began and found that due to the inability to operate, 100% of the venues experienced at least a dramatic 85% decrease in total events resulting in a minimum of 75% plunge in overall 2020 revenue compared to the previous year.

The venue sector alone employs thousands and as a primary player in its supply chain, its closures impact heavily on the rest — from hotels, destination management companies and tour operators to stand builders, contractors, retailers, local produce suppliers and part-time employment.

This has had a major impact on the overall revenue contribution to the national economy generated through the business events supply chain.

In 2019 alone, business events contributed RM3.9 billion in direct expenditure to the country and generated RM9.2 billion in economic impact.

When the economy reopened a few months ago, Pryor stated that meetings, exhibitions and events are an effective means of attracting world leaders and decision-makers for intellectual and financial capital investments.

The MCO has dampened efforts to revive the industry and to attract investments in Malaysia. Noticeably, there were no specific provisions made for the business events industry in Budget 2021.

In contrast, neighbouring countries such as Singapore have taken significant steps during the pandemic to support its business events industry and to position itself strongly.

Singapore was slated to host the World Economic Forum in August, which was recently cancelled due to “the tragic circumstances unfolding across geographies, an uncertain travel outlook, differing speeds of vaccination rollout and the uncertainty around new variants”.

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