Penang turns to business tourism to rake in higher revenue

Penang now has 197 registered hotels with about 13,000 rooms registered under the Penang branch of Malaysian Association of Hotels. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
Penang now has 197 registered hotels with about 13,000 rooms registered under the Penang branch of Malaysian Association of Hotels. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 9 — The Penang government is banking on its facilities to make the state conducive for meetings, conventions and exhibitions in its bid to tap into a new revenue stream — business tourism.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said it was estimated that an average business traveller will spend RM7,000 compared to one who travels for leisure and who will spend RM2,000.

"Business events are a key component of business tourism and Penang is well equipped to be a MICE destination of choice," he said in a press conference at St Giles Hotel today.

MICE refers to Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition.

Lim, who was announcing the inaugural industry engagement conference, "Business Events @ Penang", said Penang is well placed and prepared to capture this segment of the tourism sector.

"In order to capture this segment, we must have three main components, the infrastructure, the facilities and the people," he said.

Lim said Penang has all three as it has all the infrastructure needed to support MICE events in the state.

"We also have the facilities such as the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre which is estimated to be completed in the first quarter of 2017 and we now also have a private project, The Light Waterfront Convention Centre which will be completed after SPICE," he said.

With these two new MICE centres coming up, Lim believed that Penang will be able to host even more large-scale events and also multiple events at any given time.

Currently, he said Penang is able to host events for 10,000 delegates as it had successfully hosted a large-scale conference for 15,000 delegates at SPICE in May this year.

Penang now has 197 registered hotels with about 13,000 rooms registered under the Penang branch of Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH).

A total of nine new hotels are expected to be opened by 2018 to add another 3,000 rooms available in the state.

"We also have the people to ensure that Penang continues to attract international events and conventions to be held here with our own Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau otherwise known as PCEB," Lim said.

He said other than Sarawak, Penang is the only state to have such a bureau focused on attracting business tourism to the state.

He said Penang is fast becoming the key secondary city destination for MICE events in the region.

The upcoming "Business Events @ Penang 2016" (BE @ Penang) is organised by PCEB and co-organised by Anderes Fourdy. It is supported by MAH Penang and The Wembley, Penang.

A total 20 speakers will be presenting their perspective on the MICE industry during the conference and 150 participants from the industry are expected to attend.

Register for BE @ Penang 2016 at www.beatpenang.com or call 04-2616161 for more details.

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