Miri boosts tourism infrastructure to get more MICE

SARAWAK is banking on a new international standard hotel and ties with Brunei to promote northern Sarawak, particularly Miri City, as a MICE destination for the Asia-Pacific.

Leveraging Miri’s proximity to Brunei, Sarawak’s tourism minister Abang Johari Openg said the state will collaborate with Royal Brunei Airlines to promote packages to Northern Sarawak, using Bandar Seri Begawan as the main gateway.

He added: “We hope to capitalise on Royal Brunei Airlines’ network in the Asia-Pacific region to attract more leisure and MICE tourists to Miri.”

Miri is a 2.5-hour drive from Brunei and there are currently no direct air connections between Miri and Brunei’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.

To attract more foreign airlines to fly to Miri Airport, Malaysia Airports Holdings is throwing in free landing and parking for the first six months. Abang Johari said: “We hope this will entice charter services and when volume picks up, it will evolve into scheduled services.”

He said Miri city can accommodate small- to medium-size MICE groups as there are currently 2,400 rooms, a number that will be boosted by 328 when Pullman Miri Waterfront opens in 4Q2015.

MICE facilities at Pullman Miri Waterfront will include a ballroom with seating capacity for 1,000 delegates and six state-of-the-art function rooms. The executive lounge on the 24th floor will offer panoramic views of Miri City and the South China Sea.

Gerard Guillouet, COO of Accor Malaysia-Indonesia-Singapore said he foresees the business mix will be a “good mix of business, leisure and pure MICE”.

He predicts that MICE business will predominently be from the domestic market, and from Brunei and Singapore. Miri will also be a good post-event tour option for meetings and incentives held in state capital Kuching.

Currently, the only other international hotel in Miri is Miri Marriott Resort & Spa.

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