“Reclassify business events as economic activity, not social activity”

THE business events (BE) industry is in desperate need of targeted financial assistance to ensure survivability awaiting green light for industry opening, said an events association.

What makes it worse is that business events, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) are categorised as social activities under the country’s National Recovery Plan (NRP).

Therefore, such activities would only be allowed to resume in Phase 4 of the NRP, which might be quite a long way to go.

“For the past 18 months of the lockdown, our industry players have not been able to organise events. The BE industry has also not received any dedicated financial assistance during this period.

“This lockdown may spell a final shutdown of the industry if the Government doesn’t recognise our need to resume business and our contribution towards economic recovery,” said the Malaysian Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (MACEOS) president Francis Teo.

He added that now is actually the right time for BE to resume since 80& of the adult population in the Greater Klang Valley area are already fully inoculated.

“There is huge potential to speed up the economic recovery process when these business events are allowed. After such a prolonged crisis, the economy needs to be resuscitated, and these trade shows, exhibitions, and conferences play a crucial role to invigorate businesses again,” said Teo.

When the pandemic hit, the BE industry was the first to be immensely affected with event postponements, cancellations, and eventually a total shutdown of the industry, causing revenue losses of up to RM4.05 bil since the pandemic began in 2020.

In a July 2021 survey conducted among members of the association, 55% of respondents reported a drop in business revenue of more than 75%. Without any business or financial assistance for the foreseeable future, industry players will continue to suffer.

On this, Teo said: “More than 50% responded they would not be able to sustain their operating cash flow for more than three months. We anticipate a huge unemployment wave as a result.”

With that in mind, Teo hopes that the Government will consider reclassifying the BE industry as an economic activity under the NRP.

He said: “Business events cannot be compared to social mass gatherings. Our events take place in controlled and safe environments. Attendees can be guided and protected comprehensively with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs). MACEOS is ready and prepared to take the lead in implementing the gradual reopening of business events in a safe and secure manner.

“But we can’t wait till Phase 4 to begin our recovery work. Unlike other businesses that can reopen and operate overnight, business events require up to a few months to plan and organise events. We need to be allowed to reopen in Phase 3 for fully vaccinated individuals at events with 50% capacity and enable interstate travel to such events, abiding by the SOPs.” – Sept 10, 2021

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