This article was first published by Web In Travel on 7th October 2021
APAC needs to get back into the global game, says united gathering of MICE chiefs
CALLS on governments in Asia Pacific to reopen borders are getting louder and this week, a united group of exhibition and conference organisers, gathering at a physical event in Singapore, “implored” for the reopening of business travel and MICE.
Speaking at the Joint Leadership Summit, which brought together government officials as well as local, regional and global MICE organisers in a show of unity and strength, Mary Larkin, president of UFI, the international association of exhibition organisers, said, “There is a need to reopen for business travel, to allow the international marketplaces that welcome buyers and delegates.
UFI president Mary Larkin addressing the Joint Leadership Summit: In markets that have opened, meetings and marketplaces have proven to be a fast tracker for global recovery.
“Europe has already started to align its travel protocols. The Middle East has been open to vaccinated travellers for over a year. The US is welcoming back global travellers.”
Among the foreign delegates who attended the JLS meeting, with the majority from US, Europe and Middle East, MICE leaders from Asian countries were notable by their absence. “We had them on screen,” said Larkin, “but it was just not the same.”
Larkin said that post-the biggest disruption to the MICE industry, meetings and marketplaces have proven to be a “fast tracker for global recovery”.
“We have seen this happen – events in US, Europe and Middle East have been held safely and successfully. We need to get back to doing what we do best. The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) enabled us to hold this event this week in Singapore, but it’s not the case throughout ASEAN where a lot of our colleagues could not be with us due to travel restrictions.”
Said Larkin, “We now ask governments help us reopen safely and securely, to remember the good that business events have done to our economies. We implore you to reopen.”
Lending SAECOS’ voice to the appeal, president Aloysius Arlando said, “Markets in the US, Europe and the Middle East have reopened safely for business events over the last half-a-year. And as the world continues to brave the new endemic Covid world, it is now time for Asia Pacific to be back in the global game.
“The true success of exhibitions and business events depends on international participation and a vibrant global business exchange on the show-floor.”
It is evident that Singapore is in danger of losing its competitiveness as a MICE hub. Its strength depends on open borders and its inability to do that, despite having achieved an 82% fully vaccinated rate, has made it unable to compete against cities such as Dubai that have reopened.
Arlando said that the MICE industry in Asia Pacific generated a revenue of close to US$230 billion in 2017 and is forecast to reach over US$440 billion by 2025 (according to Allied Market Research).
Douglas Emslie, chairman of SISO (Society of Independent Show Organisers), announced the launch of the Asian CEO Summit series to be held in Singapore over the next three years, from 2022 to 2024. The first will be held next October.
“We need to restart our industry and as we move forward, we need to have this summit of CEOs from different regions to share experiences about reopening and restarting the industry,” he said.
While in Singapore, he said he shared with Singapore Minister of State Alvin Tan for the Ministry of Trade & Industry and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, “experiences I’ve had in Dubai and reopening of the market”.
The Joint Leadership Summit was supported by the STB and co-organised by the Singapore Association for Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS), Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Society for Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.
The event also saw the signing of an MOU between DMG Events, Enterprise Singapore and STB to anchor Gastech 2023 in Singapore. Gastech, the world’s largest integrated exhibition and conference, supporting the gas, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), hydrogen and energy value chain, is scheduled to take place at Singapore Expo in September 2023.
• Featured image: Association chiefs signing the agreement to hold the Asia CEO Summit in Singapore from 2022 to 2024.