Singapore, the home of world-class business events?

The country has its sights set on growing high-quality MICE events in sustainability, urban solutions, food security, energy security, fintech and advanced manufacturing.

“It is important to focus not just on the numbers, but on the quality of the events – the thought leadership, the breadth and range of the companies represented,” said STB’s Keith Tan.
“It is important to focus not just on the numbers, but on the quality of the events – the thought leadership, the breadth and range of the companies represented,” said STB’s Keith Tan.

Right from the get-go when Singapore fully reopened to the world on 1 April, the country sprang into action, issuing a clarion call to all business travellers and event planners that Singapore's souped-up MICE infrastructure, which has been painstakingly enhanced since the start of the pandemic, can pave the way for world-class business events in the future.

Speaking at the Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) Tourism Industry Conference 2022, STB’s chief executive Keith Tan thanked the tourism and business events industry for working with STB “to pilot over 200 MICE events safely, with over 50,000 attendees, over the last two years, culminating in the Singapore Air Show in February, earlier this year.”

Singapore is now poised for a strong recovery over the next few years as a result of the combined efforts between the authorities and MICE industry, and the country now looks to becoming a global Asia node for business tourism.

In the lead up to that, Tan from STB told the audience to dispel notions about the decline of business travel, pointing out that MICE players in the US and Europe have reported a strong uptick in face-to-face business events. “Many of them have resumed fully,” he said. “Here in Singapore, most trade shows anchored here, and many association conventions have told us they want to resume fully physical events in the upcoming months.”

Singapore has recently taken a big step forward in regaining a sense of normalcy for MICE events and paving the way for the safe resumption of large-scale events. Alvin Tan, Singapore’s Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), and Trade and Industry (MTI), rehashed the country’s relaxed protocols for business and leisure events that include optional mask-wearing in outdoor venues; the removal of zoning requirements for events; and the expansion of capacity limit for large events of more than 1,000 people to 75%.

“We will continue to take a balanced and sensible approach with the relaxation of measures, so that we can ensure that these events remain safe and seamless for locals and international travellers,” the minister said.

A survey conducted by STB in January revealed that Singapore remains the most considered destination for leisure and business travellers who are open to travel in the next six months, more so than competing destinations such as Tokyo and Dubai. The government believes that with its safe events and travel protocols, the country will be well-positioned to capture tourism growth.

Singapore's confirmed pipeline of events happening later this year include the 60th International Young Lawyers’ Congress, the Global Health Security Conference, two mega events under Food&HotelAsia, ITB Asia and the Singapore FinTech Festival.

“Singapore aims to be a home to best-in-class MICE events”, Tan from STB said. “Especially those that can bring Asian, European and American businesses together and also the events that are focused on the needs of the future — such as urban solutions, sustainability, energy security, food security, fintech and advanced manufacturing.”

STB references food security being an area that has the potential to birth world-class leading business events as the country has a strong footing in that sector, with multiple companies already firmly established in the country. Moving ahead, Singapore three-pronged strategy to Create, Attract and Grow high-quality MICE events out of the country will be focused on these sectors that complement Singapore’s strengths.

Through bringing in these future-forward sectors, the MICE industry can in turn support the growth of Singapore-based companies in these areas, giving them a competitive edge, and strengthen Singapore’s geo-economic relevance at a time when globalisation is under severe pressure.