Grow, anchor MICE events in Singapore for the long haul, says STB CEO Keith Tan

He wants foreign delegates to enjoy enough memorable experiences to return to city state for work or leisure

The Singapore Airshow has entrenched itself in the local MICE calendar. (Singapore Airshow/Facebook)
The Singapore Airshow has entrenched itself in the local MICE calendar. (Singapore Airshow/Facebook)

Singapore Tourism Board's chief executive officer Keith Tan has sets his sights on bringing the world's top conferences and exhibitions to Singapore, and to grow and anchor them on the island city for the long haul.

In an interview with Singapore's The Business Times, Tan said the move is "not just a numbers game" but rather to "ensure the foreign delegates have such a memorable experience that they will return in future" for work or leisure.

"Out of every 10 CEOs who come here (for events), hopefully two or three of them will think of Singapore when they want to set up a regional headquarters. Or if they plan to host an offsite meeting for their top management and directors, or even for their next big family vacation," the STB chief was quoted as saying.

"We work with our major stakeholders. If an association from overseas wants to visit one of our research institutions to see what they are doing, we try and open the doors to make it happen. Or if some guests want to have a good time at, say, Sentosa, we make sure it happens."

According to The Business Times, latest data shows that - despite the uncertain global economic outlook - there is an increase of high-profile MICE events making their way to Singapore.

Tan cited world-class events like the biennial Singapore Airshow, which is the largest aerospace and defence event in Asia, and the annual Shangri-la Dialogue that have entrenched themselves in the local MICE calendar.

Recently, the International League of Dermatological Societies picked Singapore to host its 25th World Congress of Dermatology in 2023. It will be the first time the event will be held in Southeast Asia, and will be the largest medical convention ever hosted here. It is tipped to attract 15,000 local and foreign delegates to Singapore and generate over S$28 million (US$20.2m) in tourism receipts.

In October 2020, gamescom - the world's largest computer and video games festival - will also make its Asia debut in Singapore. The event, which has been held in Cologne, Germany, since 2009, has seen over 300,000 attendees every year.

Since taking the helm at STB, Tan has inked a three-year deal with China's Alibaba to co-market Singapore, and new blueprints were revealed in a bid to rejuvenate the Orchard Road shopping belt.

And more excitingly, the two Integrated Resorts on the island - Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and Marina Bay Sands (MBS) - have also announced massive expansion plans worth a total of S$9 billion.

This latest investment is almost two-thirds their initial investment back in 2006, which was about S$15 billion at the time.

"I welcome the new investments, they are much needed," Tan told The Business Times.

"The fact that not a single government dollar is being put in, it means that (parent companies) Las Vegas Sands and Genting have done their sums and believe it is financially viable to do this."

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