KUCHING (Sept 14): Tourism industry players must work together to revive the state’s tourism industry which has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
He said for instance, the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) could collaborate with event organisers to come up with good events.
“They can collaborate with the entertainment industry, which are also facing problem during this pandemic and through the events, come up with standard operating procedures that ensure that social distancing is practised at all times,” he said when officiating BCCK’s Size Matters Campaign at the convention centre here today.
He pointed out that Kuching was fortunate to have a venue like BCCK which can be used to organise big events.
“BCCK was set up with the main intention for business events and to be a venue where we can have events that can house a lot of people. Without it, a lot of things we have been organising in the past few years would not have been possible.
“But of course, BCCK also need to work together with others in the industry especially those providing hotel accommodation because when delegates come over for events, they also need to stay somewhere.
“It’s always good to have those who are in the industry whether business events or tourism to always work together so we can bring things further up the ladder in this industry,” he said.
He said with Covid-19 not going away anytime soon, travel has reached an all-time low with many borders across the globe still closed for travel to protect citizens as well as to prevent the virus from spreading.
“Malaysia is very cautious and barring those from countries with more than 150,000 positive Covid-19 cases from coming in to the country.
“But slowly, we are relaxing it because you cannot totally stop people from coming in and we have been appealing to the federal government to let those working in the construction industry, plantation as well as those coming in for medical tourism particularly from our neighbouring country Indonesia to be allowed in,” he said.
He also said that though Sarawak has been able to curtail its Covid-19 situation promptly due to strict directives and standard operating procedures (SOP), this does not mean that the state can declare that it is now in a post Covid-19 period.
“However, while we wait for a cure, life must go on and we are proud to see our business event industry players from government sectors to event organisers, especially venues like BCCK getting back on their feet and are adapting and refocusing attention to the domestic market,” he added.
Abdul Karim said business events have been constantly restructuring themselves to adapt to the new norm which include more health and safety precautions, larger social distancing and closer focus on cleanliness for the safety and peace of mind of business delegates.
“BCCK has responded admirably well by providing thermal temperature scanners and automatic hand sanitisers among others in adapting to the new normal.”
“I also want to congratulate BCCK for introducing its new Virtual Meeting Packages which is important for local venues to adapt to suit to the demand of their clients. They are putting their best foot forward by offering hybrid events and showing us it can be done right and safely,” he said.
Meanwhile, BCCK executive director Tan Sri Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot said to cater to the diversifying needs of clients, the centre introduced the Virtual Meeting Package using BCCK’s best technology, offering half-day meetings for RM2,000 and full-day meetings for just RM3,000 to give clients miore options to ensure a successful, safe and smooth meeting experience.
Noting that this November, BCCK will serve as the venue for the Asia Pacific segment of the Regional Hubs International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Congress 2020, which will be the first global hybrid experience that ICCA has ever organised, merging traditional with modern as delegates meet virtually from across the globe.
“We’re excited to be able to be the venue of choice for the Asia Pacific regional hub on this historic occasion.
“We are also happy to welcome ICCA back to our centre more, coming full circle from when we first hosted them for the 55th ICCA Congress in 2016,” he said.
On the campaign, the former State Secretary said it highlights BCCK’s position as the largest convention centre in Sarawak, spanning 13,175 square metres, as the ideal location for larger and safer events in the new normal.
“BCCK has enough ‘elbow room’ to ensure the safety of our delegates. Even with current capacity restrictions, our great hall alone can seat over 550 people in a round table setting, with generous social distancing.
“You can comfortably hold your event here, large or small, without sacrificing safety, as we continue to adhere to all government mandated SOPs, according to the latest development from the Ministr of Health,” he added.
Also present were Borneo Isthmus Development chairperson Datuk Raziah Mahmud Geneid, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, Borneo Isthmus Development director Dato Steve Ng and BCCK chief executive officer Eric Van Piggelen.