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Julia Rahman

Fire Destroys The Andaman, a Marriot Luxury Collection Resort in Langkawi

By | 2021

The property which caught fire twice was said to have started in the kitchen of the resort and spread to the main building.  Fire gutted part of the five-star Andaman Resort in Langkawi. It was reported that all guests and staff, were evacuated from the hotel safely. Flames of the fires were contained after 12 hours by the local fire department, which also saved the centuries old tropical rainforest surrounding the vicinity of the resort from being ravaged by the fire.

Owning company of the resort, Landmarks Bhd confirmed that the fire incident took place on January 12, and that the resort will cease operation for safety reasons as well as, to ascertain the extent of the damage to the property.

“The financial impact of the fire has yet to be fully ascertained. Any property and financial losses arising from this incident are covered by insurance policies taken up by the company,” Landmarks said.

It was also reported that Landmarks Bhd has formed a committee to evaluate the rebuilding of the resort and repositioning plan for The Andaman. Discussions to this effect was said to have begun with renowned luxury hotel designer Jean-Michel Gathy who will advice the owning company.

In the meantime The Andaman Langkawi will remain closed.

UAE and Israel Establish Partnership for Trade Development and Large Scale Conferences and Exhibitions

By | 2020

Dubai World Trade Centre has signed an agreement with Israel Export Institute to facilitate participation of Israeli exhibitors in large scale exhibitions in the UAE by end of the year.  It is estimated that commercial potential from the agreement between UAE and Israel is at about USD 500 million per annum.

The framework of the agreement was created based on: cooperation and participation in international conferences and large scale exhibitions; organising and exchanging business delegations; as well as support of significant business partnership opportunities between the two countries.

It will be facilitated by Israel’s Export Institute and Ministries of Economy and Foreign Affairs, which are actively engaged in the promotion of Israeli industry following the recent signing of the peace treaty with the UAE. The Israel Export Institute responsible for Israeli participation in international exhibitions will now take on this role for the first time in the Gulf States.

Signing of the agreement is part of a new engagement between the UAE and Israel to further peace and stability in the region through dialogue and cooperation for sustainable development.

“The historic signing of the Abraham Accords agreement has opened new avenues for strengthened collaboration and exchange between the UAE and Israel. It has also established a framework for bilateral trade and economic ties to flourish between both states. Partnerships such as the one between the Dubai World Trade Centre and the Israel Export Institute will have a wide-reaching positive impact, as not only both nations stand to benefit, but so does the wider region, particularly through an inward flow of investment and trade, increased cooperation, knowledge sharing, and large-scale innovation,” said Abdulla bin Touq Al Mari, UAE’s Minister of Economy.

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center in Reykjavík Ready for Post-COVID-19 Era

By | 2020

The venue was temporarily closed when social distancing measures were put in place in Iceland on March 16.

Since April 5 however, there has been a steady decline in COVID-19 infections with only a handful of active cases in the country. On May 4, marked the start of substantial easing of the social distancing measures and on May 7, Harpa reopened becoming one of the first conference halls in Europe to do so during the pandemic.

When social distancing measures were put in place in Iceland on March 16, Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center in Reykjavík had to close temporarily. Before the outbreak, 2020 was on track to be a record year for Harpa in international events.

“It was confusing and difficult for us, as for everyone in the event industry, to see things unfold when borders started closing down,” says Svanhildur Konradsdottir, chief executive officer of Harpa. “But we certainly appreciate that most of our clients chose to postpone their events rather than canceling them. That inspired us to start right away to plan for the post-COVID-19 era.”

The chief executive officer stated that the venue is working closely with the Icelandic health authorities to enable international conference guests to be safely brought together this summer.He added, the venue have implemented processes on dividing space into sections to fulfill current regulations on group size and social distancing.  Also cleaning procedures for the whole building with attention to frequently touched objects and surfaces such as microphones, pointers, keyboards and podiums are disinfected between speakers. Alcohol based hand sanitizers are available to all guest.

Last week Reykjavik announced that from June 15, the 14-day quarantine will not be mandatory for passengers arriving at Keflavik International Airport. Instead, tourists and Icelandic residents entering the country will be given the option of being screened for the novel coronavirus.

ICCA and TCEB Announce Webinar Series to Navigate the New Norm

By | 2020

The two organisations are joining hands to present a series of educational webinars for the meetings community beginning from Tuesday, May 26.  The partnership will focus on education in response to the global COVID19 crisis with the objective to mitigate the disruption of activities.

ICCA, as the global meetings industry network, is aligning its strategic effort with TCEB to support the business community by means of continuing education and facilitating knowledge sharing. Both organisations will leverage each other’s resources to design customised webinars to meet the diverse needs within its membership, the association community and government sectors.

The ICCA-TCEB Webinar Series will consist of three webinars which will be presented at no cost. Both organisations will bring together thought leaders from across the global network to discuss broad topics on the future of conventions and behaviour change, expectations in the new business ecosystem and evolution of hybrid meetings.

Each webinar will be developed and designed to address the needs of different market segments. The first edition will focus on associations followed by the second one on intermediaries, and the third on government. The Webinar Series are scheduled on May 26,  June 2 and June 9 – running consecutively every Tuesday for three weeks in a row – are open to the global meetings community interested in the topic.

The first webinar of the series, scheduled to be held on May 26, has garnered voluntary support of experts from around the world to deliver virtual learning for associations.

TCEB Launches Hygiene Guidelines for MICE Venues after Easing of Lockdown

By | 2020

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has established under the new normal environment, five key measures on hygiene and public safety which has to be strictly adhered to.  It ranges from limiting the number of attendees (one person per two square-metre space), screening of body temperature, distancing practice within business premises in meeting rooms, elevator, restroom and canteen, establish a system to track delegate who becomes ill after visiting the premise and finally, a queuing system with the separation of waiting areas before entering the premises.

Thailand Convention Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) in collaboration with MICE stakeholder associations launch, the MICE Venue Hygiene Guidelines targeting MICE entrepreneurs to be well-prepared for the resumption of businesses under the new normal environment following, the positive sign of COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country, and the gradual easing of lockdown by the government.

The MICE Venue Hygiene Guidelines however, have three key practices covering pre-event, onsite and post-event.

Pre-event practices include preparedness of staff, transport, setting up of screening point, self-screening application or website for attendees to feedback within 24 hours before the event. This as well as,  manual on permitted number of attendees, instruction on holding large scale activities and hygiene instruction for attendees.

While the onsite practice focuses on the use of information technology to mitigate risks. This includes the arrangement of venue to reduce touch points, regular cleaning of touch points and QR code for registration and satisfaction survey to ease congestion,  room layout for better ventilation, two-meter apart seating, microphone set-up at different points and regular cleaning after use.

In the case of speakers invited from location outside the host city safety measures taken to reduce incoming risks are by arranging shuttle service for speakers or provide accommodation near the venue for the speakers.

For exhibitions, advance booking technology for visiting exhibiting booths to lower gathering crowds or virtual exhibition technology should be employed to create experiences for those waiting in the queue. Product booking or purchases can be done through online platform.

Post event practices include the employment of waste management system that can prevent infection, producing a report on event organisation for authorities concerned in accordance with the orders and announcements of the Thai government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Iceland will Open its Borders on June 15

By | 2020

The Icelandic Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir has announced that from June 15, the 14 day quarantine will not be mandatory for passengers arriving at Keflavík International Airport. Instead, tourists and Icelandic residents entering the country will be given the option of being screened for the novel coronavirus.

After being screened at the airport, arriving passengers will go to their overnight accommodations, where they await the results. In addition to that, every arriving passenger will be asked to download the COVID-19 tracing app ‘Rakning C-19’ which helps authorities trace the origin of transmissions.

Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation says: “When travellers return to Iceland we want to have all mechanisms in place to safeguard them and the progress made in controlling the pandemic. Iceland’s strategy of large scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far. We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us.”

The proposed border opening depends on the continued decline of cases in Iceland. At this point, only three cases of the virus have been diagnosed in May, only 15 individuals have the virus in Iceland with more than 15 percent of Iceland’s population have been tested. Authorities stated that it could also be implemented earlier than June 15 if preparations go well, and the number of cases remains low. The testing may be used toward further research of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.

Meet in Reykjavík – Reykjavík Convention Bureau: Tel: +354 527 6666

Business Events Council Malaysia Appeals to the Government to Restart Crucial Sector

By | 2020

The Council is appealing to the Malaysian Government to make a clear distinction between business events and mass gatherings with a view, to establish a restart date for this crucial economic sector of the country. Currently under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) which was enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conferences and exhibitions in the country, are prohibited from taking place

Chairman of the Business Events Council Malaysia (BECM), Alan Pryor, said that it was important for the government to understand that the business events industry can operate safely under the comprehensive standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Malaysia’s business events venues and facilities according to the chairman, can offer controlled environments with high quality operational standards to ensure the health and safety of people which, has always been the primary concern, of the business events industry. As such he mentioned the sector, should not be subject to the mass gathering restrictions that apply to other large-scale events such as weddings, religious gatherings, sports events and concerts.

Pryor commented: “Event venues are economic engines for their cities and communities, creating significant tax and travel revenues as well as jobs. That is why, in consultation with the industry, we have developed highly comprehensive SOPs, which demonstrate our focus on ensuring the safety of our employees, clients, suppliers and attendees.

Collectively industry stakeholders have submitted these SOPs to the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) who have in turn, submitted them to the government. We hope that these will demonstrate the proactivity from our industry in working with relevant government authorities to facilitate the reopening of the business events industry sector, which plays a vital role in stimulating Malaysia’s economy.”

Meanwhile the relevant industry sectors have developed a range of comprehensive SOPs with the support of industry associations which incorporate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), food safety measures, air quality control, surface cleaning, and physical and social distancing.

Based on the SOPs, Malaysian business event venues will also be required to implement a variety of other measures including temperature checks, thermal cameras, hand sanitisers, reduced touch-points, contactless transactions and daily monitoring systems. Specifics of these SOPs will be further customised for each venue and event to ensure the health and safety of all involved in the planning and execution of events on site.

“We do hope that the Malaysian Government takes this distinction into account moving forward, as has been happening in other international markets such as China and Germany. Gatherings and events are not all equal and come in many different shapes and sizes. Purpose-built convention centres are required to maintain international standards with controlled environments and stringent operational processes,” Pryor concluded.

PATA Releases 39 Destination-Specific Forecast Reports

By | 2020

The reports delve in the changing dynamics of travel and tourism in the specific destination across the Asia Pacific region with individual forecasts based on: annual visitor arrivals into each destination by source market; annual arrivals from the destination across other Asia Pacific destinations; and aggregate visitor receipts where data availability allows.

In addition, each report also estimates the income and price elasticity of tourism demand highlighting some key visitor trends over the forecast period and analyses, on scheduled inbound flights and seats. Each factor describes in detail how demand preferences are shifting across the Asia Pacific region.

PATA’s chief executive officer, Dr. Mario Hardy stated that the world is data-driven and it is the focus on hard data that will, offer a significant advantage to destinations that can best identify, and cater to source markets that will be the first to travel again once, the current pandemic is brought under control.

He further said, “Budgets are likely to be very tight in the near-term, so a strong alignment of activity directed toward those source markets with the strongest potential for conversion to travel, will be essential.”

Knowing those markets according to Dr. Hardy, when they are likely to rebound with travel, will be critical in delivering cost-effective results. The income and price elasticity as shown in the reports for many of the source markets will, be an important factor in this regard he added.

PATA Strategic Intelligence Centre has updated series of destination reports which are designed to present insights into the ever-present shifts and changes that occur in the travel and tourism sector and in such a way that strategic actions, can be better facilitated.

Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre is on Track

By | 2020

Work on the WCEC is slightly ahead of schedule. All 220 piles have been put in place and 60 per cent of the base layer concrete had been poured when the Alert Level 4 lockdown was imposed by the New Zealand Government. Work resume on the April 28 as New Zealand entered Alert Level 3.

The 18,000 square metre WCEC is, Wellington’s  first premium conference and exhibition with conference facility spread across two floors capable of hosting multiple smaller conferences simultaneously, or a large convention of up to 1400 delegates.

Earlier in April, the centre announced a virtual planning tool to help users create and develop their own event floor plans, whilst becoming more familiar with the rooms and flexibility of the centre throughout the construction period.

Once an event has been created, it can then be sent to the user as reference or go straight to the sales team to receive pricing and indication of availability.

According to WellingtonNZ Regional Development Destination and Attraction’s general manager David Perks whilst the events industry is currently severely impacted by Covid-19 the industry, is preparing to organise conferences and events as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“We know clients have an interest in bringing events to Wellington, its New Zealand’s capital city and seat of parliament with access to Ministers and key government officials.

“It’s also home to multiple universities and research institutes, is easy to get around, has great access to cultural, retail, environmental and natural activities, and its people are fabulous hosts and ambassadors for New Zealand.”

Please contact the Business Events Wellington team at for more information.

Work has started on the Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Greater Bogota Convention Bureau (GBCB) Presents its First Trimester Report – Results are Both Positive and Encouraging for the Events Industry in Bogota

By | 2020

As a part of its commercial strategy in 2020, the GBCB identified 112 event opportunities: presented 18 bids; and confirmed 12 events for Bogota.

Among the 12 events, three took place from January to March 2020, before the Colombian government declared a sanitary emergency. “In fact, within the first three months of the year, we welcomed 19 international clients from Europe, United States and Latin America, who we accompanied on seven site visits where we featured the city’s attractive offer to carry out their events in the coming years.” declared Liliana Orbegozo, executive director of Greater Bogota Convention Bureau.

The bureau has 95 members with five new additions consolidated in the first trimester who, operate in different economic sectors and contribute to the events industry.

Liliana Orbegozo, Executive Director of Greater Bogota Convention Bureau.

In the context of the crisis set forth by the COVID-19 emergency, the bureau conducted a survey to measure the impact on its members. Among the 42 responses, the results showed 533 canceled events, while 347 were postponed. These represent more than USD 12.5 million in losses.

“Faced with this situation, we decided to support our members by providing the option to freeze membership fees for two months. Likewise, we developed a communication strategy to keep them informed on the latest aid and benefit programs for the industry, offered by the local and national government. The strategy included an effort to strengthen their online channels, enhancing their visibility through our social media,” added the executive director.

The executive director also offers reassurance to the industry while honouring the difficult times ahead. She mentioned the Greater Bogota Convention Bureau has always looked towards the future, targeting high-impact events for the next few years. As long as the bureau continues to do so stated the executive director, the MICE industry in Bogota will resume to grow and develop.

In the meantime, the Greater Bogota Convention Bureau will go on to play a fundamental part in the industry’s recovery while keeping in mind that the estimated time of reactivation for international tourism is between the end of the year, and the beginning of 2021.

Within the first trimester’s report there are nine events won for Bogota, which will take place starting in 2021 and will bring, more than 19,000 foreign participants to the city with 22 events to be confirmed, which are expected to bring more than 27,000 foreign visitors to the city.

Considering this, the bureau will contribute to mitigate the economic impact of the current situation between 2021 and 2027. The GBCB has worked hand-in-hand with the District Institute of Tourism (IDT) towards a recovery strategy of the tourism industry in the city.  The IDT’s initiative is focused on aiding the recovery of the MICE industry.

According to the IDT, once the Covid-19 emergency is over, the city would have a negative economic impact of more than USD 52 million for the meetings and entertainment industry.