Singapore’s reopening of its borders is reviving its once-thriving corporate events sector, with strong “pent-up demand” for face-to-face gatherings and networking expected to sustain the industry for the next two to three years, said experts.
“It would be very fair to say that the recovery is real. It’s real because people are coming back to conventions and exhibitions,” said Richard Ireland, chairman of the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers. exhibitions.
The Singapore Tourism Board, or STB, predicts that the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions, or MICE, industry will experience a full recovery in two to three years. Industry players are also optimistic, noting that after a two-year hiatus, the city-state is once again hosting some of the biggest international events. These include the Shangri-La Dialogue and the Food and Hotel Asia Food and Beverage trade event to be held in September.
Ireland expects a full recovery to be possible in less than two years, noting there is strong “pent-up demand” for people’s desire to have face-to-face meetings and networking.
Lawrence Loh, director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore, said the MICE sector may even “recover sooner rather than later” and “it could take place even before two or three years.”
“It’s just like in the aviation and hospitality industry right now, where the recovery has been faster than expected. Many entities are currently facing serious difficulties in filling vacancies in order to meet the sudden surge in demand,” Loh told China Daily.
As one of the world’s major financial centers and a global aviation hub, Singapore is home to the thriving MICE industry. The industry’s annual revenue reached 3.8 billion Singapore dollars ($2.73 billion) and accounted for 0.8% of GDP before the pandemic.
The industry, however, is also one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, as closed borders and social distancing measures have hampered mass gatherings. But in October 2020, the STB began accepting applications from organizers to pilot MICE events for up to 250 participants. The Singaporean government has also developed testing protocols for overseas delegates and other visitors.
Last year, Singapore hosted over 200 events. In the first quarter of this year, Singapore hosted over 150 events attended by over 37,000 delegates.
Jean-Francois Quentin, Group CEO of event organizer Constellar, said the MICE sector has shown signs of recovery and accelerated growth since the government lifted restrictions on travel and social gatherings in April. . He said that for the second half of the year, Singapore has secured at least 66 international events and already has a number of events planned for next year.
Ireland said the pandemic has encouraged event organizers to be “more attentive and well prepared for the safety of our customers”.