Singapore charges ahead with large-scale physical events for 2021

From left: PCMA's Patricia Cheong; Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's Shonn Mills; Align Technology's Julie Tay; STB's Jeannie Lim; and moderator Janet Tan-Collis from SACEOS speaking at the SingapoReimagine MICE Virtual Show

The events fog is clearing up for Singapore’s events industry, as a promising roster of large-scale conferences is in the works.

Panellists at the SingapoReimagine MICE Virtual Show on March 3 revealed plans to organise physical events in Singapore this year, with attendance possibly running up to 2,000.

From left: PCMA’s Patricia Cheong; Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s Shonn Mills; Align Technology’s Julie Tay; STB’s Jeannie Lim; and moderator Janet Tan-Collis from SACEOS speaking at the SingapoReimagine MICE Virtual Show

These include the Invisalign Asia Pacific Summit, which is projected to welcome more than 1,000 healthcare professionals from Asia Pacific, Europe and the US; as well as a gathering of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, comprising 2,000 attendees and an international membership of 75-80 per cent.

These potential events join the anticipated World Economic Forum’s Special Annual Meeting 2021, slated for Aug 17-20, which aims to host some 1,000 delegates.

Shonn Mills, board of trustees member for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, shared: “We picked Singapore for our conference location because it is a beacon for sustainable urbanism, and this has become even more important after Covid-19. Our plan is to have 2,000 members come to Singapore in November. I’m sure it will be hybrid too, but I’m hoping the measures that Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Ministry of Health put in place, as well as (developments) surrounding vaccination, will allow us to move ahead with a large-scale conference.”

Confidence in Singapore’s safe facilities and events were bolstered by the portfolio of hybrid events that have been piloted under the government’s Safe Business Events framework. Since STB opened up applications for MICE events on October 1, 2020, some 50 events have already been organised.

These include TravelRevive in November 2020, which saw some 1,000 attendees and exhibitors on-site, and the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) Convening Leaders in January 2021, which welcomed 300 delegates. Measures put in place to ensure safe meetings included daily antigen rapid testing, meeting pods with Plexi-glass and zonal systems to limit intermingling.

“The fact that 300 delegates agreed to join us and take the antigen rapid tests was a strong indication that the industry is ready to meet again in a safe manner,” expressed Patricia Cheong, associate director, development, PCMA.

She continued: “We are still a very long way from figuring out how to network virtually. The serendipitous moments that happen are only possible in physical meetings. I think we will continue to see smaller, regional events coming together first. We can learn, experiment and start building a box of experiences, which can then be used for bigger events.”

As Singapore leads the path towards the resumption of safe business events, various different measures are being trialled. This includes the “stepped-up testing regime” employed at TravelRevive and PCMA Convening Leaders, whereby delegates underwent pre-departure, on-arrival and pre-event testing in place of quarantine.

STB is also working towards international vaccination certification, in hand with ICAO and IATA, in order to “expedite travelling across borders”, described Jeannie Lim, assistant chief executive, STB.

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