International buyers depart Melbourne with high hopes of recovery

Melbourne’s successful hosting of AIME 2022, Australia’s first in-person international travel trade gathering since the pandemic began, has inspired confidence in the industry’s recovery among participating Asian event planners.

The event, which concluded last Wednesday, hosted 27 buyers from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India, making Asia the largest represented region participating this year amid continued travel and quarantine restrictions.

AIME 2022 concluded on Wednesday with about 1,500 participants meeting with minimal restrictions

Many buyers told TTGmice they were inspired by seeing what was possible after two years of hard borders and gathering restrictions, and appreciated the flexibility shown by suppliers to adapt to new challenges as countries begin easing restrictions for overseas travel.

“I found suppliers to be really open-minded about ways to work with us, which is really important right now because everyone needs to adapt,” said Elaine Lau, managing director of La Global Travel in Malaysia.

“Coming to AIME has also given us an opportunity to start travel and business events again. We need to begin to show everyone else that it’s safe to get together and do events, and we need to kickstart quickly to recover from the last two years,” she added.

CEO of Indonesia’s Samasta Tour and Travel, Teguh Basuki, said attending AIME was like experiencing the “rebirth” of the travel industry. “For me, it was important for people to see events happening safely; even more important than the usual price and destination considerations,” he observed.

Hosted buyers also shared that they were surprised to find an abundance of new products and services despite the pandemic.

“The number of new developments (I have learnt about) has been very interesting. Singaporeans like visiting Australia, so for the next few months, I foresee a lot of travel to Melbourne and the rest of Australia,” said Joevi Tay, sales manager at Singapore’s EU Mice.

La Global Travel’s Lau and Samasta Tour and Travel’s Teguh at AIME 2022 in Melbourne (photo credit: Adelaine Ng)

Melbourne Convention Bureau CEO Julia Swanson told TTGmice that instilling confidence in organising events was the most important achievement for AIME. The event attracted about 1,500 participants, with some 900 people attending the Welcome Event on Tuesday night.

“Recovery will take a while and that’s okay. Event planners are rethinking their business models and exploring doing things in a slightly different way. We’ve now had the time to work with them to give them some new ideas or incorporate new things into their programme,” said Swanson.

Swanson also said interest out of Asia for small- to medium-sized groups is increasing, and this market is expected to return quickly now that air access has been re-established.

Melbourne is expected to host 97 business events between now and the end of the year worth A$195 million (US$147 million), attracting almost 50,000 delegates. Events include The World Block Chain Summit and the International Congress on Obesity in September and October respectively.

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