Singapore Updates

Business events “not just a numbers game”: STB

Singapore Tourism Board chief, Keith Tan, underlines meetings and events as key focus area at Tourism Industry Conference.

The business events industry has been named as one of five key focus areas for the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in the next five years.

Addressing close to 1,000 delegates at its annual Tourism Industry Conference this week, STB chief, Keith Tan, says business events play an important role in enhancing Singapore’s destination attractiveness and strengthening the local knowledge economy.

“We are and continue to be widely recognised as a leading MICE city in Asia Pacific. STB is making a very serious effort to strengthen Singapore’s position.”

In 2018, the Lion City welcomed more than 2.7 million business travellers and MICE visitors, a growth of 10 per cent.

“It is not just a numbers game,” Tan stressed. “It is not just about chasing after more and more events and business visitors. A good calendar of well-selected MICE events can be a powerful economic enabler for Singapore.

“It positions Singapore as a key global node for talent, ideas, and capital. It profiles our world-ready business sectors and enterprises, and it gives our capable SMEs a chance to showcase their products and ideas to an international audience.”

To ensure the continued growth and development of the local business events industry, Tan referenced infrastructure upgrades at Singapore Expo (which just finished Phase 1 of a multimillion dollar refurbishment) and recently announced expansion plans at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa that include additional event spaces and mega arena.

But it’s not just about hardware.

“We need to have strong industry capabilities,” Tan says. “Our MICE industry professionals must see themselves as more than just “event organisers” or “venue providers”. Thus, we want to work with [the industry] to be future-ready, capable of developing fresh and compelling products and IP, and able to develop and anchor events that are unique to Singapore.”

Tan says STB is pleased to support the partnership between SACEOS and UFI, and the newly launched Asia Pacific Executive Development Programme. This joint initiative will focus on education and training to better equip events professionals for the future. The first module will be focused on security and will commence in May 2019.

Singapore’s senior minister of state for trade and industry and education, Chee Hong Tat

Singapore’s senior minister of state for trade and industry and education, Chee Hong Tat, also highlighted the strength and significance of Singapore’s business events industry.

“The MICE sector is a key pillar of our tourism industry and has seen strong growth over the years – 2018 was a particularly good year,” he says.

“Many of you would recall how Singapore played host to the first Trump-Kim Summit, cementing our place in the history books and showcasing our expertise in organising such high-profile events to the highest standards. Singapore also hosted other key international conferences such as the ASEAN Summit and the Bloomberg New Economy Forum. In addition to benefiting the tourism industry, such events also strengthen our status as a global business hub.”

Referencing new-to-market events like the Singapore Fintech Festival and the Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific event, minister Chee acknowledged that meetings and events provide a platform for Singapore to demonstrate thought leadership.

“MICE is important as it allows us to promote Singapore as a knowledge hub – where new ideas and business networks can be established.

“In 2018 the Fintech Festival drew more than 45,000 participants from over 130 countries, with more than S$16 billion planned investments in ASEAN enterprises over the next three years.

“So [business events] don’t just benefit Singapore, but it benefits the region.”