The recent return of visitors to Australia from Singapore has given the business events community a huge boost, prompting new business leads and ending the drought of inbound travellers since the pandemic began.
Sydney and Melbourne opened their borders to fully vaccinated Singaporeans on November 21, greeting arrivals at the airport with live music, ‘welcome back’ messages and gifts.
The reopening has been seen as a critical move to restart international meetings in Australia, which is estimated to have lost A$35 billion (US$25 billion) in event cancellations last year and more than 92,000 jobs.
“It’s an incredibly positive and crucial step towards the recovery of Australia’s business events industry,” said Tourism Australia’s executive general manager of commercial & business events Australia, Robin Mack.
“For business events planners in Singapore, the reopening of our border provides the opportunity and confidence to book Australia for their next business event, while also signalling to our other key international markets that Australia is getting ready to reopen to the world.”
“Since the announcement of travel reopening with Singapore, we have received business leads from the region, highlighting that Australia is still seen as highly desirable with exceptional destinations, world-class venues and unique experiences. According to in-market intelligence, we expect enquiries to increase as planners’ confidence continues to rise,” he continued.
Mack said the border reopening begins a shift in focus, from keeping Australia top-of-mind with customers, to converting incoming leads and capitalising on short- to mid-term business. Tourism Australia will run a targeted PR and marketing drive highlighting Australia’s readiness to welcome back business events, as well as fam programmes “when the time is right”.
“Encouragingly, we are seeing business leads from Singapore for late 2022 and beyond from sectors including insurance and direct selling industries and a trend towards smaller corporate meetings and incentives,” said Mack.
“Our recent international research also supports this, with 80 per cent of incentive decision-makers from Singapore indicating they are likely to visit Australia in the next two years – rising to 88 per cent in the next three years,” he continued.
Australia’s border opening to Singapore has also been welcomed by event planners, who can now forecast meetings with more certainty.
“(It’s) an exciting step for Australian business events,” said Nicole Walker, managing director of Arinex. “We are assessing ways we can maximise any opportunities with Singapore and I will be meeting with clients and representatives from (there), as well as across the Asian region at IBTM World this week.”
“We are also actively approaching new inbound groups through our representation partner Body and Soul, who are tapped into the Singaporean market and will identify prospects on our behalf,” she continued.
Australia welcomed 74,000 business events visitors from Singapore in the year ending December 2019, who spent a total of A$270 million. Australia will also welcome fully vaccinated citizens from Japan and South Korea from December 1.