KUCHING, May 13 — State Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg last night called for a change in the old narrative that business events will create a tourism impact where international delegates will come and spend their money in Sarawak.
He said the new narrative should be that global leaders will share their knowledge and “see what we are doing in Sarawak.”
“Corporations and investors will come too. It is an opportunity to tap into a global network, secure venture capital and attract new talent,” he said at the presentation of the Anak Sarawak Awards organised by Business Events Sarawak (BES) in collaboration with the state Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts.
He said an international conference is a strategic way to stimulate the business events industry which will help Sarawak become a high-income developed destination”.
He said one example is when the state government hosted the Asia Carbon Conference in March this year, some 400 delegates, many of whom were carbon investors and developers, came.
“They came because they were looking for a destination where they could invest in carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS).
“Those who were not looking to invest were interested to learn more about how we are developing CCUS and shared what was being done in their country or region,” Abang Johari said.
He said what Sarawak gained was not only potential economic opportunities, but the connections to progress further into the carbon trading future and create opportunities for the people to look forward to.
“However, if we only measure ‘conference’ by the old narrative and how much delegates were spending, we would not be able to enjoy the wider benefits that it brought.
“Delegates will spend, regardless. That is one economic opportunity. But we must cast a wider net and consider additional opportunities,” the premier said.
Abang Johari said he foresees business events will become a strong contributor to Sarawak’s gross domestic products and social development.
He added as a testament to the state's leadership role, together with the state Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing shall launch the Legacy Impact Master Action Plan at IMEX Frankfurt trade show on May 23 in Germany.
He said it is the first action plan of its kind in South-east Asia to define and drive decisions about hosting business events in Sarawak.
“This is Sarawak adopting transformative thinking where legacy impact is Sarawak’s value proposition beyond business events, but the proposition for all sectors and industries,” he said.