Singapore charges on with safe event prototype, rapid antigen testing


Singapore is pressing forward with a prototype for hybrid events that can accommodate up to 250 pax in person, including overseas visitors, made possible with safe itineraries, rapid antigen testing and a strict cohort system.

The prototype was launched today with TravelRevive, a joint event organised by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and ITB Asia from November 25-26. It will see close to 1,000 delegates on-site across both days, including 65 foreign delegates from 14 countries.

Without a large domestic base, Singapore is pushing ahead to welcome MICE visitors back, while safeguarding its population

On top of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that international attendees had to undergo upon arrival, they also took in a new rapid antigen test before the event that delivered Covid-19 diagnoses in half an hour.

Speaking at the event, Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s minister of trade and industry, said: “We are not waiting for a vaccine to arrive, nor are we waiting for the Covid-19 pandemic to blow over. Instead, we are establishing foundations now to get started on a journey to reinvent and rebuild (the MICE) industry.”

Features that have been spun into this new hybrid event format include a blend of physical conferences and virtual broadcasts, an online meeting diary for delegates, as well as exclusive experiences such as a private museum tour and a private tepee dinner in Night Safari.

The movement towards digitalisation of MICE events and the reinvention of leisure experiences were “already present prior to Covid-19”, remarked Chan. He observed that businesses had begun to revaluate the need to travel for routine meetings, and travellers were starting to consider more environmentally friendly travel experiences.

“The outbreak of Covid-19 has driven (another) need: health security and physical comfort. Whoever can ensure visitors’ health security in a faster and better way will gain a competitive advantage. Singapore recognises this, and has every intention to lead in this area,” he described.

Chan also stressed that Singapore is adopting a “risk management approach instead of a risk elimination approach”, as it is “unable to tap on a large local population or domestic sector”.

Going forward, various industry stakeholders will roll out a series of products to reinforce safety measures for the leisure travel and MICE industries. For instance, Changi Airport Group is developing a safe travel concierge, which provides visitors with a checklist of requirements before entering Singapore and helps business delegates remain in their event cohort.

Other protocols are in the works, such as a combination of PCR testing on arrival and periodic antigen tests, usage of TraceTogether for contact tracing, with more to be detailed in the Events Industry Resilience Roadmap by SACEOS, STB and Enterprise Singapore.

Chan said: “We hope that such protocols will be accepted and adopted by more countries. This will allow all of us to have a shared protocol (that can) reduce the need for a long-term quarantine period that is really disrupting business travel.”

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