Q&A: Singapore Tourism Board

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MEI talks to Melissa Ow, assistant chief executive, Industry Development Group, Singapore Tourism Board about the country's meetings and exhibitions sector.

What size/value is the MICE sector in your country (i. e. number of convention venues/contribution to your economy)? "Business travellers to Singapore including meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) delegates form a significant segment of overall visitors. In 2009, Singapore attracted 2. 6m business travellers. This segment accounted for 27% of all visitors to Singapore, spending about S$4. 2bn Singapore dollars – about 33% of total tourist spending. The year 2010 has been a landmark year for Singapore and its MICE industry. Industry players have reported an estimated 20% surge in sales in the MICE businesses. New entrants to the scene including the Integrated Resorts have attracted a strong pipeline of events and deals. The Marina Bay Sands has reported securing many business events that will be hosted at the integrated resort between now and 2012. Long–time industry player Suntec Singapore also recorded its highest occupancy in June 2010, welcoming 1m visitors who attended 102 events. Singapore has also earned top accolades in the MICE sector. This year, Singapore was ranked as the 'Top International Meeting City' for the third consecutive year and 'Asia's Top Convention City' for the 11th time, maintaining its spot as one of the Top Five Convention Cities of the world. " What is your country doing to grow the sector further? What is your technology infrastructure relating to the MICE sector? "The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has been working and will continue to work closely with business events industry partners and Singapore Inc agencies to grow the number, scale, stature and relevance of business events staged here. On the trade front, STB works with partners to bid for international association conferences; connect Singapore organisers with foreign tradeshow owners in Asia, Europe and the US, and to co–create new and innovative business events to be staged in Singapore. To heighten awareness of and interest in Singapore as a leading business events destination, STB also works with industry partners on international marketing and publicity efforts including trade familiarisation visits, journalist visit programmes, participation in overseas tradeshows, roadshows and media roundtables. The STB also provides support for the industry to collaborate in reaching out to new and key markets to order to raise Singapore's profile as a top business destination. One such example is the Joint Marketing Alliance. On the consumer front, STB seeks to actively shape and enrich the visitor experience with the development of the City Advantage smartphone application – a compact tool that incorporates a host of lifestyle–related deals and privileges for business travellers. More of such innovations can be expected, with the growing demand for technology advancement among delegates, meeting planners, and conference organizers. The STB's Technology Development Fund encourages companies to use technology to increase productivity and enhance the user experience. Moving forward, STB is looking to continue efforts on these fronts to grow the sector further and for the MICE sector to continue to power ahead as a key driver of tourism growth in Singapore. " How much accommodation is available to convention visitors? "With the opening of the new hotels including those in the two Integrated Resorts – the Marina Bay Sands and the Resorts World Sentosa – an estimated total of about 3, 910 rooms have been added to the overall hotel inventory in Singapore. As of the end of the first quarter this year, the total hotel room inventory in Singapore stands at more than 42, 000. Over the years, we have also created an integrated MICE precinct within the heart of the financial district at the Marina Bay area which is supported by over 2, 000 hotel rooms and a host of lifestyle, retail and business amenities. Within the precinct, business travellers can enjoy a seamless, connected and multi–faceted visitor experience. " What can your country offer business travellers when they want to unwind from the actual conference/exhibitions? "Singapore's concentration of attractions, venues, and activities all packed into a compact, user–friendly and accessible city makes it easy for time–hungry business travellers to customise their desired experiences in a short span of time – a proposition which no other Asian city can offer. At Resorts World Sentosa and the Marina Bay Sands, business travellers can now experience the culinary genius of a constellation of celebrity chefs, shop at luxury flagship stores, catch long–running Broadway shows and experience the first Universal Studios in Southeast Asia – all housed within the Integrated Resorts. Attractions like Sentosa, Night Safari and Orchard Road have continued to draw visitors with their vibrancy and appeal. Exciting and recurring events such as the world's only night Formula One night race, the Singapore Sun Festival and the Asia Fashion Exchange continue to add buzz to the city. Over the next few years, travellers can look forward to key developments and projects such as Gardens by the Bay and River Safari. " Why should a convention come to you and what would they expect if they do? "Convention owners and associations can expect to work with the STB to co–create new and innovative meeting solutions, and customise enriching experiences for their delegates. STB also provides support and assistance through joint marketing efforts and incentive schemes such as the 'BE in Singapore' (BEIS) scheme. Apart from top–notch MICE infrastructure and enhanced venue options, organisers can also expect more value with STB's co–creation, co–location and marketing of strategic clusters of events and conferences under one distinctive Singapore brand. By creating a concentration of business events, MICE organisers, exhibitors and delegates can forge partnerships, exchange ideas and exploit new business opportunities with professional visitors from other related sectors. In addition, convention owners and associations can leverage Singapore's sound business fundamentals and infrastructure to tap into emerging markets and industries in Asia, a region that continues to demonstrate strong economic growth. "Are you excited about the future of the MICE sector in your country? "The outlook for Singapore's MICE industry looks positive. With the world's business travel spending expected to increase, and Asia leading the growth in the travel and tourism industry, Singapore is in a good position to ride on the momentum and draw more MICE business to Singapore. Our pipeline of events for 2011 onwards has grown steadily and is set to grow further with new shows such as Cruise Shipping Asia 2011, ScreenSingapore 2011 and the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA) World Congress 2013 among others. For the first time in FIATA's history, Singapore was chosen as the host city for the FIATA World Congress 2013, breaking FIATA's rotation pattern for hosting the congress in Europe. With the completion of new developments such as Gardens by the Bay, the River Safari, and the National Art Gallery, MICE organisers will also have a new range of venues to create refreshing MICE experiences for their clients. "

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