As travel bubbles and new hybrid event models spur industry recovery in Asia, leaders from Singapore and Indonesia joined the recent M&C Asia Connections — Global edition to offer insight into how the respective destinations are taking active steps to restore regional MICE.
While government meetings are driving recovery of Indonesia's domestic MICE sector, the country's Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (MoTCE) is also hosting a number of event simulations and mini exhibitions across the country to help local stakeholders implement new protocols.
"These government events are done at hotels and through PCOs to provide revenue and keep our stakeholders in business. Our simulations also [help stakeholders understand] how the ‘real thing’ might be,” said Ibu Rizki Handayani, deputy minister for tourism product and events at MoTCE.
Singapore is following a similar 'test-water' approach — starting with July’s announcement of two pilot business events, then easing restrictions to allow meetings of up to 250 attendees from 1 October 2020. The latest: Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW), which concluded on 30 October.
“This is the largest event since the start of the pandemic, and a MICE event — giving us a lot of cause to be optimistic about,” said Dr Edward Koh, executive director, conventions, meetings and incentive travel, Singapore Tourism Board.
SIEW was also one of the first business events to trial pre-event testing, where all 250 delegates participated in a 15-minute antigen rapid test before entering the event.
Koh acknowledged the “huge experiment” will be used to allow larger, international events to return to the Lion City.
Rapid testing is also being used for government meetings and event simulations in Indonesia, where the government is currently supporting all the costs involved.
Event simulations have been carried out in Jakarta, Bandung, Bali and Bintan — and the later two destinations have been flagged as potential 'green corridors' between Indonesia and Singapore.
“We’re trying to implement all the health and safety standards required in Singapore, such as contact tracing," Ibu Rizki explained. Amid ongoing government talks, she added: "We really hope to open the borders in order to support the livelihoods of our local MICE stakeholders."
The last three months have been especially busy, as Indonesia rolled out a series of cleanliness, health, safety and environment (CHSE) protocols for tourism establishments, parked under InDOnesia CARE, better known as ‘I DO CARE’.
Agreeing on the vital need to “have some level of border opening”, STB’s Koh spoke of Singapore's unilateral agreements with 11 countries to date, and how hybrid and virtual is a “great new world” but that “we’d like to resume some semblance of how it was [pre-Covid days] soon”.
Next on Singapore’s meetings agenda — Travel Revive — which will be the largest event in Singapore when it launches 25-26 November. “We’re expecting delegates by the hundreds globally from destination where green lane arrangements are in place. All the good practices from SIEW will be extended here,” said Koh.