Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre embodies nation’s regional MICE ambitions

Giant exhibition space is Southeast Asia’s third-largest venue with a versatile mix of meeting rooms and a giant floor that’s built for heavy industry exhibits

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 6:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 6:46pm

The Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec) opened in August 2017 and is the country’s largest exhibition centre, with over 45,000 square metres of gross exhibition space. It is also the first component of a high-impact project in KL Metropolis, a city within the city of Kuala Lumpur, where trade, commerce, living space and transport converge over 75 acres (30.35 hectares) of prime land development within Malaysian capital’s International Trade and Exhibition District.

The 628 million ringgit (HK$1.264 billion) facility was designed to meet the growing demands of the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) industry. Spanning over three massive double-volume floors, Mitec has nine mega exhibition halls, two medium-sized halls and a ballroom. All the halls can accommodate up to 50,000 people in theatre-style seating and about 20,000 banquet-style.

Mitec’s futuristic architectural design incorporates some of Malaysia’s traditional elements. The structure’s spheroid shape reflects the seed of a rubber tree, which played a key role in the initial growth of the Malaysian economy. Meanwhile, the ornate patterns of the songket – a hand woven traditional Malay fabric - can be seen on the exterior. The venue’s other unique features include a 12,960-square-metre pillarless hall; and big halls with up to 36m high ceilings.

All Mitec’s exhibition halls can be expanded to 180m in width and up to 71m in length. There are direct ramp services to all floors and connected to every exhibition hall; and alongside one of the country’s highest and longest escalators. Mitec is the first venue in Malaysia capable of hosting large heavy industry events, with a maximum floor loading of 50kN to support the weight of heavy machinery and vehicles. The venue has meeting and conference rooms, media and press facilities and organisers’ offices, as well as lounges, retail, food and beverage outlets.

“Mitec is built to be Southeast Asia’s leading exhibition and trade venue, with the ultimate aim of positioning Malaysia as the preferred MICE destination in the region,” says Mitec CEO Gunther Beissel. “It has a capacity and capability to accommodate larger and bigger exhibitions, which was not possible before it opened. Its role is a catalyst for economic impact and job creation for the city of Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia as a destination.”

According to Beissel, Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur have long been a preferred destination for meeting and convention planners; however, many have often bypassed the city and destination because of the lack of space provided by existing facilities. “With the opening of Mitec, which is now the third-largest venue in the Southeast Asia region, Malaysia will have the ability to compete in new growing markets, including international conferences and events, particularly mega events which have more than 5,000 delegates each,” Beissel says.

Mitec received strong direct support from the Malaysian government, he adds. It is a public-private partnership project with the Malaysian government and is managed and operated by Prisma Galeri, an entity under Naza Corporation Holdings. The centre is owned by the Malaysia External Trade Development, a national trade promotion agency under the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

“Mitec has full endorsement and support from the owners with government commitment to promote it as a venue of choice and encourage major national and international events and conferences to be held at the centre,” Beissel says, adding that the strategy is “in line with the government’s business-friendly policies to achieve the objective of making Kuala Lumpur one of the top five most visited cities by 2020”.

According to the International Congress and Convention Association, Kuala Lumpur is ranked ninth in the Asia-Pacific and 32nd globally as a convention centre city. Malaysia was previously ranked ninth in the region and 35th globally.

In 2016, Malaysia’s MICE industry attracted 111,298 delegates to 153 events and generated revenue of 1.035 billion ringgit. By 2020, business tourism is forecast to contribute 3.9 billion ringgit to the country’s gross national income and generate 16,700 jobs.

The venue’s outlook for the year 2018 is very positive with a number of high-profile events already lined up, Beissel says, citing Mitec’s hosting of the Malaysia International Halal Fair; Defence Services Asia; Semicon Asia and Malaysia Obstetrics and Gynaecology Congress. He says a volatile global economic climate is a continuing challenge for the convention and exhibition industry in Asia and in Malaysia, and it could also continue to affect the business tourism environment in 2018. “As a result, events have become a lot leaner and very much budget and return-on-investment focused, and we need to be even more creative by providing innovative products and services.”

The convention and exhibition industry could also be impacted by the strong growth and expanding wealth of middle classes in the high-population markets of Asia; the enhanced collaboration between destinations, suppliers and associations; the growing importance of sustainable and eco-friendly practices, with an increasing demand for special dietary requirements and healthy food and beverage choices. The sector could also be affected by flexible function space options that are tailored to suit clients’ events; and a greater emphasis on risk management and budget reductions.

Beissel believes that culturally diverse and strategically based Malaysia and Mitec are well-positioned to capture growth from within Asia.

He is confident of their ability to attract more international exhibitions and events to the country through partnerships with industry supply chains. Mitec will also continue to invest in infrastructure to keep up with the rapid advancement of technology.

“Fortunately for Mitec, Malaysia’s unique selling propositions such as value-for-money, direct air access from most major cities around the world; a safe and stable political climate; established industry supply chain help boost our attractiveness to the regional and international marketplace,” he adds.