Singapore anticipates more eventful 2H2020; government reassurance key

Stakeholders are expecting Singapore’s MICE industry to make a comeback in 2H2020, after the spread of Covid-19 is stemmed, and international meetings and events resume regular programming.

The destination enjoyed a solid year of events in 2019, and initially had “a robust pipeline for the next two years” queued up, said Aloysius Arlando, president, Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS).

MICE business for Singapore will tumble this year, but stakeholders are hopeful that things will bounce back in 2020

However, the Covid-19 outbreak that erupted over the past few weeks has given MICE businesses in Singapore – many of which are SMEs – “a very rough start” to the year, said Arlando.

Numerous global and regional events, such as the Sweden-Southeast Asia Business Summit; the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers’ inaugural Asian Media Leaders Summit; Aviation Festival Asia; and the second SG Tourism Leaders Engagement Series 2020, have placed their bookings on hold or postponed them.

In addition, arrival numbers for Singapore are expected to worsen, with the STB projecting that international visitor arrivals (IVAs) to the country will slide by 25 to 30 per cent this year, shared chief executive Keith Tan on Tuesday.

This drop is more severe than the decline seen in 2003 as a result of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, which dented Singapore’s IVAs by 19 per cent.

Tan continued: “At this point, we estimate that every day, we are losing an average of 18,000 to 20,000 IVAs into Singapore. Most of these are Chinese, since we have stopped all visitor arrivals from China, but leisure and business travellers from other countries are also deferring or cancelling their travel plans to Asia.”

However, the MICE sector is banding together to work towards a swift recovery once this blows over.

Arlando shared: “(The SACEOS) team is working with organisers to see how best we can manage the cancellations and postponements. However, not all players are at the (same) level of understanding and preparedness (for the crisis). What we want to do is to level up the baseline, to make sure that precautionary measures are in place.”

He added that 2H2020 will see a “bunching up” of postponed events – many have been rescheduled to the period from May to July – and advised MICE companies to consider “how to best manage” this flood of business when it arrives.

Tan reassures MICE stakeholders the government is doing what they can to retain confidence

Some hospitality players have implemented the strategy of turning their attention to long-needed refurbishment works in anticipation of eventual recovery, said Kwee Wei-Lin, president, Singapore Hotel Association.

STB’s Tan also assured that the organisation has been engaging with other global associations, such as at the UFI Global CEO Summit 2020 in Rome, where leaders have expressed “a high level of trust” in Singapore’s safety and success of recovery.

“We don’t see any reason for other countries to impose travel advisories (on travel to and from) Singapore. We’re very confident in the measures that our government has taken. Our foreign ministry will work very closely with other countries who indicate that they wish to (impose travel advisories on Singapore),” he continued.

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