Singapore recently welcomed its largest post-lockdown incentive movement from India in September, when more than 2,400 SBI Life Insurance “Jewel of the Crown” (JOTC) top agents and partners gathered for their four-day programme.
Flying in from nine cities across India on 36 different commercial flights, this was the largest JOTC ever (1,600 pax attended the Bali incentive trip in 2019), and one of the largest incentive groups hosted in Singapore this year.
Delegates’ itinerary included major attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore (USS), Sentosa, and Gardens by the Bay, while the awards and gala dinner was held at Sands Expo & Convention Centre.
Supported by the Business Events in Singapore scheme and Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) India team, Akbar Travels of India and Akbar Travels Malaysia handled the trip logistics.
When asked why Singapore holds strong appeal for India’s outbound corporates, major Indian incentive tour operators SOTC Travel and Thomas Cook (India) cited Sentosa was home to many other attractions such as SkyHelix, Skypark Sentosa, Mega Adventure Park, and Ola Beach Club. The Night Safari and River Safari at Mandai, and the Singapore Flyer are also popular.
“Singapore is one of the most sought-after MICE destinations in South-east Asia thanks to its accessibility and strong connectivity from India with a choice of multiple carriers, from budget to full-service airlines,” said S D Nandakumar, president & country head – corporate tours, SOTC Travel.
“SOTC’s forward pipeline indicates a strong and growing appetite for MICE travel to Singapore. We have multiple queries with group sizes ranging from 200 to over 1,000 pax for 4Q and 2023,” he added.
Similarly, Meera Charnalia, senior vice president and head – MICE, Thomas Cook (India), has seen the outbound demand for Singapore surge “over three times”, and pointed out that the route is at “90 per cent recovery”.
She added: “We have operated a significant number of groups to Singapore ranging from 50 to 200 pax, with budgets ranging between 75,000 Indian rupees (US$911) to 150,000 Indian rupees per person and have several movements in the pipeline.”
Charnalia attributed the surge in interest to strong support from STB, as well as the ease in obtaining visas.
“The In Singapore Incentives & Rewards (INSPIRE) Global 2.0 programme is beneficial for MICE groups to Singapore as it offers several complimentary options including sightseeing, dining, thematic tours, teambuilding and retail experiences,” noted Charnalia.
With travel sentiment at an all-time high, both tour operators have also reported an uptick in cruise incentives from Singapore.
Nandakumar shared: “Our data has also revealed a surge of over 40 per cent in cruise itineraries compared to pre-pandemic levels. Cruises (are popular as they) represent a great value proposition as an all-inclusive experience.”