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SICC offers Bumis MICE role

Published on: Sunday, July 06, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: The completion of the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) in 2017 will allow the Yayasan Sabah Group to offer Bumiputras more opportunities in the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) global business.

This is apart from training its own staff and garnering new revenue source for the group by sustaining as a catalyst for the growth of development for Sabah by attracting new investments.

The SICC, which has already been pledged RM250 million by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, would be a new product for the Yayasan Sabah Group for producing and sustaining economic growth through transforming and leveraging local strengths for global use, in addition to its income-generating one million hectares of timber concession area and the creation of Innoprise Corporation as its commercial arm to undertake various businesses.

Yayasan Sabah Group also maintains major tourism attractions like its premier conservation areas of Imbak Canyon, Silam Coast, Maliau Basin and Danum Valley which was visited by Prince William and consort Kate last year, followed by the Sultan of Selangor who wanted in on what the British Royal couple experienced at Sabah's God-blessed nature heritage.

"SICC was one of the projects discussed in the NKRA Lab on Bumiputera Development for Sabah and Sarawak under the tourism sector initiative which was identified as the catalyst for high value tourism products.

"It will unleash our staff's potential from event management, create a knowledge-based workforce, attract and retain talent for Sabah to exploit the full potential of high-end tourism sector and jump-start the associated technology and services," said Yayasan Sabah Group Senior General Manager Hajah Rosmawati Hj. Lasuki.

She was elaborating on the game-changing need for the SICC to ensure Sabah becomes a high income state and grow as a knowledge society in line with its people-oriented vision.

Hajah Rosmawati expounded enthusiastically on this when presenting her paper on "Investing in MICE Infrastructure and Facilities as essential part of modern cities" focusing on Kota Kinabalu as a convention city, at the 3rd Global Tourism Cities Conference (GTCC 2014) held here, recently.

The session was chaired by Daily Express Chief Editor James Sarda and also featured international award-winning architect Stephen Pimbley and Prof. Dr Amran Hamzah of the Centre for Innovative Planning and Development, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

It was attended by some 200 city planners and tourism players from various countries, as well as from Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.

"SICC is expected to accelerate Bumiputera entrepreneurs participations in the high end tourism value chain, as envisaged by the Prime Minister to position Sabah as a leading MICE destination by 2025.

"The tourism industry offers tremendous opportunities for Bumiputera entrepreneurs in tourism related commercial and business activities."

She said job and business opportunities would be created in event management, customer services, graphic services, audio visual services, security management, financial management, marketing, building management, maintenance, food and beverage, and others from airline companies to transportation, besides hotels to boost the local economy.

"However, Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputera entrepreneur involvement in the tourism related is insignificant and confined to the lower end of the tourism value chain.

"Currently, Bumiputera efforts to enter into the industry are individually driven.

The SICC is perceived from a macro level with a primary mission to attract conventions and meetings that will generate economic benefits for Sabah through its wide ranging multiplier effects," she said.

She said the establishment of the SICC would also support the Pusat Kraftangan Sabah in Keningau, the new landmark for the development of the handicraft industry in the State.

"This initiative is an on-going commitment of the Yayasan Sabah Group in developing the rural people of Sabah into a high-income economy. The effort is to bridge the gap between rural-poor and urban-rich by creating job opportunities and unearthed entrepreneurial talents."

SICC is expected to provide indirect 10,000 job opportunities in different fields and provide employment between 700 to 1,000 workers during construction period.

She said despite lack of international class infrastructure, Sabah is still being sought as the ideal location for international MICE related events especially since the write-up of SICC was published in the TTGMice Magazine in the December 2008/January 2009 issue and in June 2009 issue.

"If no effort is taken to develop an international convention centre, Sabah is likely to lose opportunity to bid for new MICE events.

"TTGMice Magazine in the May 2011 issue mentioned that MICE demand in Sabah will reach for the skies, following the launch of several new flights that have made it more accessible. We need the direct flights to Sabah.

"The current venues in Sabah have turned away many businesses. Presently, it is mainly for relatively small-to-medium events up to 500 to 600 delegates."

Hence, the business that Sabah can handle is limited by the lack of these purpose-built facilities. "In view of the vast potentials brought by MICE activities, Yayasan Sabah Group took the initiative to develop a world-class infrastructure for MICE.

SICC is expected to enhance Sabah's global connectivity with more direct flights. Sabah enjoys good air links with major cities in Asia Pacific with approximately 70 million and 139.14 million potential tourists within a 3-hour and 6-hour flight radius respectively.

Sabah's strategic location offers tremendous untapped economic potentials as a member of BIMP-EAGA.

Sabah possesses all the inherent strengths as Kota Kinabalu is a recognised premier location tourism city with its Kota Kinabalu International Airport being one of the most modern airports in South East Asia with growing international connectivity.

As a result, Sabah's tourism and hospitality industry are becoming one of the state major earners, and MICE from SICC is set to propel it up the value chain and transform its business landscape.