Singapore’s MICE sector recovers strongly in 2023, sets the stage for continued growth

Singapore’s pipeline of business and leisure offerings demonstrates its appeal as an attractive and trusted tourism destination

The corporate travel and business events sector in Singapore steadily regained momentum in 2023, according to the Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) year-in-review report.

In 2023, STB successfully secured several significant business events that took place in Singapore for the first time. These included SILMO Singapore; Transport Logistic Southeast Asia; Bar Convent Singapore; the 25th World Congress of Dermatology 2023; Million Dollar Round Table Global Conference 2023; and the International Trademark Association 2023 Annual Meeting Live+.

Singapore’s pipeline of business and leisure offerings demonstrates its appeal as an attractive and trusted tourism destination

Other significant business events held in 2023 included Food and Hotel Asia (FHA)-Food & Beverage (F&B), Herbalife APAC Extravaganza 2023, Milken Institute Asia Summit, and Singapore FinTech Festival.

These events have contributed to preliminary estimates for Singapore’s 2023 tourism performance, which has shown strong results in both international visitor arrivals and tourism receipts.

International visitor arrivals reached 13.6 million in 2023 (approximately 71 per cent of 2019’s figure), meeting STB’s forecast of between 12 and 14 million visitors. Tourism receipts are estimated to reach S$24.5 billion (US$18.3 billion) to $26.0 billion, surpassing STB’s forecast of S$18 billion to S$21 billion set out in 2023. This is approximately 88 to 94 per cent of 2019’s tourism receipts.

Looking ahead, significant business events secured for this year include the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Global Conference; NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific; Rotary International Convention; Singapore Airshow; World Architecture Festival; World Congress of Anaesthesiologists; and Worldchefs Congress and Expo.

STB reiterated that it is committed to attracting and nurturing quality business events that align with Singapore’s identified growth and priority industries, such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace and logistics, applied health sciences and financial services.

STB, together with the Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers and the Association of Singapore Attractions, also continue to work in partnership with GSTC to develop new Global Sustainable Tourism Council Criteria for business events and attractions respectively, which aim to serve as the global sustainability standards for both industries.

This builds upon 2023’s efforts, where STB worked with local industry associations to develop industry-specific roadmaps in the hotels and business events sector, providing clear directions towards sustainability outcomes, such as achieving internationally-recognised industry-specific certification. STB will continue to bring together Singapore’s tourism stakeholders to drive sustainable tourism as part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030.

Overall, STB expects the tourism sector’s recovery to continue in 2024, driven by improved global flight connectivity and capacity as well as the implementation of the mutual 30-day visa-free travel between China and Singapore. In 2024, international flight capacity is expected to continue to increase, with capacity at or approaching pre-pandemic levels for the majority of our key source markets.

The latest data from the International Air Transport Association indicates that although global international air travel demand in 2023 is below pre-pandemic levels, the gap is rapidly closing. The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines notes that Asia Pacific carriers have seen healthy growth in international passenger demand throughout the year, in tandem with the restoration of flight frequencies and connectivity. Overall, the outlook for air travel demand remains positive.

This year’s international visitor arrivals are expected to reach around 15 to 16 million, bringing in approximately S$26.0 to S$27.5 billion in tourism receipts.

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