The sea beckons to MICE groups once again

CruiseWorld Indonesia: As ports of calls resume in Southeast Asia, incentive planners are seeing the comeback of MICE groups.

During a panel discussion at CruiseWorld Indonesia 2022, Best Tour and Cruise Centre's president director Johnny Judianto (right) told moderator, Travel Weekly Asia's Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, that he sees growing interest in cruises for Indonesian incentive as well as interest groups.
During a panel discussion at CruiseWorld Indonesia 2022, Best Tour and Cruise Centre's president director Johnny Judianto (right) told moderator, Travel Weekly Asia's Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, that he sees growing interest in cruises for Indonesian incentive as well as interest groups. Photo Credit: Travel Weekly Asia

MICE groups in Indonesia are starting to show an interest in cruising again as Singapore-based cruise ships resume ports of calls return in Southeast Asia, revealed travel agents at CruiseWorld Indonesia 2022, which took place in Jakarta on 4 August.

"Indonesian MICE groups were not too interested in cruise programmes without ports of calls," said Tara Tour's director Paulus Sofyan Gazali, speaking during a panel discussion at the cruise conference. "But now that regional ports of calls to Penang and Phuket are back, they are starting to show an interest again."

Royal Caribbean International's Spectrum of the Seas and Resorts World Cruises' Genting Dream, which are homeported in Singapore, have started sailing to Malaysia's Port Klang and Penang since July. Come October, both ships will sail further north to Thailand's Phuket.

Best Tour and Cruise Centre's president director Johnny Judianto, likewise, is also already receiving RFPs from Indonesian incentive as well as interest groups for cruises, although not all have materialised into bookings. "Some of them don't really know the numbers and they do not want to risk overbooking until they have the final participant figures."

A major challenge, according to Judianto, is the current high airfares between Indonesia and Singapore, which often pushes travel costs beyond the budgets of incentive groups.

However, the cruise expert is hopeful that airfares will stabilise and come down in the months to come as flight capacity between the two countries builds back.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) recognises that the current airfare situation is preventing Indonesian MICE groups from coming back faster. Pre-Covid, Indonesia was a key market for Singapore in terms of cruise incentives.

To hasten the recovery of MICE groups, STB's area director Indonesia - Jakarta office Mohamed Firhan Abdul Salam said the bureau is enhancing its incentive programmes for international MICE groups through a trio of support schemes.

For groups above 250 pax, the BEIS (Business Events in Singapore) assistance scheme offers grant reimbursement for up to 80% of cost.

For groups of 20-250 pax, the Singapore Incentives & Rewards (INSPIRE Global 2.0) programme provides close to 80 complimentary experiences, including dining and attractions to thematic tours and team building, for qualified MICE groups with a minimum two-night stay in Singapore.

And under the M&I Stars 3.0 scheme, meeting and incentive travel planners will get S$2,000 for every 100 pax accumulated.

"In the recovery period, we do want groups to swing back to Singapore," said Firhan. "We look forward to working with you to welcome more groups to Singapore.



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