SINGAPORE – As more tourism businesses anticipate their re-opening in Phase 2 of Singapore’s exit from its Circuit Breaker, some will have to restart later than others, depending on the nature of their activities, and whether it is practical to implement the necessary safe management measures.
Mr Andrew Phua, Singapore Tourism Board (STB)'s executive director, Exhibitions & Conferences, is encouraging business event organisers to engage with STB to work together to implement all safe management measures before operations resume.
He welcomes their feedback on how to ensure their events can proceed safely and added: “We will not rush to re-open our economy, as the focus is to make sure that we re-open safely and sustainably.
“The future of industry events COVID-19 will fundamentally change the way people meet and do business. We will start to see smaller group sizes, shorter meetings, and the adoption of digital solutions and virtual engagements to augment face-to-face events.
“Virtual meetings and webinars will be a key part of a company's meetings and events strategy, allowing them to reach wider audiences with cost effective digital solutions. Hybridisation of events are also expected to take off in a significant way – in a format where content is delivered virtually, while retaining the ‘live’ aspect that fulfills the need to connect and network.”
He added that Singapore has providers who have the capabilities and solutions to leverage and execute such hybrid events and that technology will also help businesses implement new safety and sanitation protocols such as temperature screening, safe distancing measures and contact tracing.
Integration of technology into the visitor experience, such as the use of digital guides and contactless registration will become mainstream.
STB has stressed repeatedly that it will help MICE players to accelerate their efforts and boost their competitiveness. Said Mr Phua: “As we take steps towards embracing what a post-COVID-19 world holds for the MICE industry, we encourage our MICE industry partners to use this downtime to rethink event formats, explore new partnerships and upskill for a post-COVID-19 world. We have to be well positioned and ready to resume business when the time comes.”
The Singapore Government is offering funding of up to 80% of costs for Singapore-registered companies looking to leverage technology to redesign and innovate their current business models and processes.
Some schemes businesses can tap into:
• Enterprise Singapore’s (ESG) Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports companies keen on adopting IT solutions and equipment to enhance business processes, at up to 80% of qualifying costs
• ESG’s Enterprise Development Grant. Up to 80% of qualifying costs for projects that help companies upgrade business, innovate or venture overseas
• STB’s Business Improvement Fund – up to 80% of qualifying costs for innovation, productivity, and building up capabilities
• There are further opportunities afforded by the STB Tech College to upskill. Launched in January 2020, our Tech College helps companies learn how others have accomplished their technology transformation plans; what their pitfalls have been and what actions have been critical for success
• Deferment of Income Tax for businesses and self-employed persons by 3 months
• Temporary bridging loan, where the maximum supported loan has been raised from $1m to $5m
• Higher proportion of course fees subsidised (90%, up from 80%) and higher absentee payroll (90% of basic salary up from 80%) for SkillsFuture Approved training programmes
• SkillsFuture Study Award, which awards $5,000 to mid-career individuals to develop and deepen their skills in the MICE sector (application window closes on 30 June 2020)
• Virtual MICE Professional Development courses, organised by the Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS). These include Professional Conference Management, and Certified Meeting Professional courses.
• STB has launched its S$20 million Marketing Partnership Programme where STB will support part of the MICE players’ marketing costs, and award additional funding boosters to companies that collaborate with other tourism stakeholders to create experiences that add greater value to visitors.
• During this period, funding support can also be sought through STB’s existing schemes, including our Kickstart Fund, and Business Events in Singapore (BEiS) scheme.