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Sabah ICC promises to open in Q1 2020

“My primary role is to get this convention centre open,” says new GM.

The long-overdue Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) is set to open its doors in the first quarter of 2020, according to newly-appointed general manager, Tristan Beau de Lomenie.

Speaking to Biz Events Asia at the MACEOS BE Forum in Kuala Lumpur this week, de Lomenie says the venue is 85 per cent complete and that he is eager to collaborate with industry stakeholders to ensure it does not become a white elephant.

“I have met most of the hotel general managers, the airlines and industry,” he says. “Everybody is eager to collaborate and start partnering with us so that we can finally develop the state, the city and make it one of the top MICE destinations of Malaysia.”

de Lomenie joined SICC about two months ago, following his previous position as director of operations at LUXE Hotels India, and a 30-year career with AccorHotels. 

He says: “My primary role is to get this convention centre open, and that will happen in the first quarter of 2020. Then, it is to run, operate, and market it nationally and internationally.”

As well as engaging with the local business events industry, the SICC team plans to ramp up its international marketing efforts in 2020 with a presence at major industry trade shows such as IMEX in Frankfurt and Las Vegas. 

de Lomenie notes the importance of a close working relationship with the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) and Sabah Tourism Board, and hopes the opening of SICC will give new impetus to the formation of a dedicated convention bureau in Sabah.

“We strongly wish to have a convention bureau open in Sabah. It will help us and the entire industry in Kota Kinabalu to ensure that the city becomes a strong MICE destination and to ensure that this is well marketed nationally and internationally.”

SICC is the first dedicated convention centre in Sabah and is a sizeable property with more than 92,000 sqm of space sitting on 6 hectares of land. The centre will have an exhibition hall, a convention hall, a performing arts hall to fit 1,250 pax, and an open-air plaza for outdoor events, along with several meeting rooms.

“Having this convention centre will allow Kota Kinabalu to diversify the sort of tourists that we have and bring MICE tourists which will deliver better yield for the city,” he says.

As a tourism destination popular for its tropical rainforests and exotic culture, Sabah has been doing well. International tourist arrivals to the Land Below the Wind grew by more than 10 per cent last year, with top markets being China and South Korea.