Singapore’s business events industry is set for further growth this year in tandem with increasing flight connectivity and capacity, China’s gradual reopening, and strong interest from Indonesian, Malaysian and Indian markets, noted Singapore Tourism Board (STB) officials at yesterday’s Year-in-Review conference.
Looking back on the year past, STB said recovery for business events had picked up pace. In 2022, marquee international events that made a comeback to Singapore included Food and Hotel Asia – Food & Beverage and Food and Hotel Asia – HoReCa, which took place as two dedicated trade shows for the first time; ITB Asia; and Singapore Fintech Festival, which attracted a record turnout from over 115 countries.
STB also secured new events like FIND: Design Fair Asia, Global Health Security Conference 2022, and the 14th World Stroke Congress, as well as high-quality business gatherings such as Herbalife APAC Extravaganza 2023 and the 25th World Congress of Dermatology 2023.
To support industry recovery, STB will pump S$110 million (US$83.1 million) into boosting both business and leisure events over the next two years. Funding comes from the S$500 million war chest that was set up in 2022 to aid tourism recovery.
In terms of incentive travel potential, Juliana Kua, STB’s assistant chief executive, International Group, said groups from China, Indonesia and Malaysia have shown a strong interest in Singapore.
Kua added that STB received strong signals even during the pandemic that they were able to secure a number of Chinese groups for Singapore.
Singapore’s strong appeal as a business centre for the Chinese is further underlined by a number of China-based events that were held in the city-state last year, despite travel restrictions. Asia Corporate Week and Caijing Summit were such examples. Coming up, Singapore has a steady pipeline of business events either from China or which appeal to Chinese corporate travellers.
For now, China’s connectivity with Singapore is resuming at a slow and cautious pace – a deliberate move by the Singapore authorities to ensure Changi Airport has the capacity to maintain smooth operations. There are currently 38 weekly flights between Singapore and China.
STB chief executive Keith Tan said at the Year-in-Review conference that he expects to see Chinese arrivals returning to 30 to 60 per cent of 2019’s numbers by the end of 2023.
The Indian corporate market, meanwhile, has indicated strong interest in Singapore despite current testing requirements for travellers returning to India from Singapore. Air access between Singapore and India will improve in about one to two months’ time, with connections to 17 cities in India, one more than the pre-pandemic level of 16.
Stronger interest from Indonesian and Malaysian corporate groups is spurred by successful KOL engagements for Muslim markets, which has positioned Singapore as a muslim-friendly destination.