Singapore charts reopening roadmap with global gathering of leaders

The Joint Leadership Summit brought together attendees from several countries to commit to action plans on rebooting Asia’s exhibition industry.

Singapore is paving the way forward for business events and intra-regional business travel following the Joint Leadership Summit of AEO/ SACEOS/ SISO/ UFI. Supported by Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the three-day summit (5-7 October) marked the first face-to-face meeting, since the pandemic began, of regional government ministers, major global event organisers and trade association leaders with attendees from Indonesia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Switzerland, UK, US and UAE.

Graced by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan, the Joint Leadership Summit kicked off with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Singapore Association for Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS), the Association of Event Organisers (AEO), the Society for Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) as an agreement to launch the Asia CEO Summit, an annual dialogue for the regional exhibition industry that will take place in Singapore from 2022 to 2024.

SISO Chair, Hervé Sedky, said: "We have been working on putting this summit together for over three years, and the global leaders in attendance, along with others who were not able to join, have put in a substantial effort into making this happen – this is a significant moment.”

The Joint Leadership Summit was a strong indicator of Singapore’s reputation as a safe and trusted global Asia node for business events. The Asia CEO Summit’s three-year commitment to Singapore further cements the destination’s place as a market leader and innovation hub in ASEAN, where global leaders meet to exchange ideas and drive economic development.

Curating change for future resilience

As Singapore looks to reboot business travel, the playbook for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) is also being rewritten for the post-Covid world.

“The industries which have permanently changed need to reinvent themselves and pivot to new markets and products to remain relevant. The MICE industry is one of them, and it is therefore critical that we take steps to chart a new direction and capture future demand.” said STB Executive Director, Exhibitions and Conferences, Poh Chi Chuan.

“As the world and industry recovers from COVID-19, it is also important for global and local MICE industry players to collaborate and share learnings for a sustainable recovery. Platforms such as the Asia CEO Summit offer global MICE key leaders the opportunity to network, gather for meaningful conversations and recover together.”

Innovation is critical to carry the MICE sector through Covid-19 and beyond. In the recent Reimagining Business Events – Through Covid-19 and Beyond whitepaper, developed by STB, UFI and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), three pillars of innovation were identified: business models, delegate experience and talent and capabilities.

In addition to innovation within the MICE industry, STB’s Safe Management Measures (SMM) adopted the use of technology to facilitate attendee registration. Aside from social distancing, mask requirements and safety checks, other SMM implemented at the Joint Leadership Summit comprised an automated self-check-in kiosk that allowed delegates to obtain event lanyards for themselves, thus reducing contact between event staff and delegates. Operators of the event are also accredited with the SG SafeEvent Certification, a mark of assurance which signifies that the event organisers in Singapore uphold high standards of hygiene and safety.

Driving economic activity

The MICE industry in Asia Pacific generated close to US$230 billion in 2017 and is forecast to reach more than US$440 billion by 2025, according to Allied Market Research. “It is fuelled by a bourgeoning regional marketplace and market-leading events in key sectors, which drive new business and network opportunities and provide good jobs,” said SACEOS Immediate Past President, Aloysius Arlando.

“We are on our way to recovery,” said Mary Larkin, outgoing president of UFI and president of Diversified Communications. “We came together as a united industry during the Joint Leadership Summit to advocate for the reopening of business travel and events in APAC so as to revitalise the incredible international marketplaces that come together here.”

SISO’s Sedky also addressed the importance of tapping Asia Pacific as it is a key growth region. “The SISO CEO Summit is known as an influential annual gathering in North America for the leaders of our industry. We now are planning to replicate this leading event in Asia Pacific.”

As Southeast Asia continues its reopening journey, Singapore continues to lead the way forward. Events like the Joint Leadership Summit and the upcoming Asia CEO Summit not only mark the beginning of a revitalised MICE industry, but provide a much-needed confidence boost to international event planners.



This article is brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board

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