Struggling to climb out of the recession, economies in exportreliant Southeast Asia are banking on the MICE - meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions - industry. By far the most active of them are Singapore and Thailand. While Thailand strives hard to keep its edge, Singapore’s popularity is on the rise.
Having worked hard to put itself back on the exhibitions industry map, Singapore exhibition and convention scene continues to improve. For the second consecutive year, Singapore has been recognised as ‘the top international meeting city’ as well as ‘Asia’s top country and city’ for meetings for the 25th consecutive year in the Union of International Associations (UIA) 2008 global rankings, released early this year.
These accolades, signifying a high benchmark of excellence, come at an opportune time as they put Singapore in a strong position to further expand its share of the global business events market.
Singapore’s MICE industry is a key growth area of the tourism industry. The Tourism 2015 plan cites MICE industry as potentially contributing 35 percent of tourism receipts.
According to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the country hosted 637 meetings last year that met UIA's criteria, a 36-percent increase, compared with 2007. Association business comprises about 40 percent of the MICE business in Singapore, of which association tradeshows form a large component.
The STB launched what it calls BOOST - Building On Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism - an S$90 million ($60 million) initiative to help the tourism sector through the recession. With the launch of the City Advantage tag, the latest addition to the board’s “2009 Reasons to meet in Singapore” campaign, the city-state is offering more reason to attend business events here.
The year-long campaign aims to promote Singapore as a preferred MICE destination with a host of exciting travel packages and promotions to enhance its proposition as a value for money destination. More than 20 hotels have joined forces to offer special privileges under the campaign, including free unlimited internet services, complimentary breakfast, accommodation,
Business delegates have also been encouraged to take advantage of the “Bring Along a Partner” promotion, which features special deals for their partners such as dining and spa treatments.
The city advantage, which is exclusive to business travellers and delegates attending MICE events in Singapore until December 2009, is distributed through hotels and to delegates upon registration.
The country is adding new venues as it anticipates growing demand for floor space.
Early 2010, the Las Vegas Sands, The Marina Bay Sands, will open a new venue with 120,000 square meters (1.29 million square feet) of exhibit and meeting space. Opening in the first quarter of 2010, Resorts World at Sentosa is another new venue. The property offers 1,800 rooms in six hotels with meeting and ballroom space.
Meanwhile, Singapore Expo is finally going ahead with its expansion and renovation, a year after it first announced plans to do so. The convention and exhibition venue will have a new twostorey extension housing 24 meeting rooms.
Singapore Expo, the largest convention and exhibition venue in Singapore, plays a key part in attracting business tourists, who contribute about 40 percent to overall tourism revenue. The Expo now has 10 exhibition halls, 10 conference halls, nine meeting rooms and six mobile conference rooms, with a total floor space of about 112,000 sq. m.
The $55 million makeover is expected to be completed by June 2011, and will add nearly 10,000 sq. m - the equivalent of an extra hall. The expansion was first announced last year in September.