Singapore has set aside S$500 million to help strengthen its position as a global hub for business tourism and win back international visitors.

And a key part of the plan is to hold best-in-class Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) events that bring in businesses from Asia, Europe and the US together, said Singapore Tourism Board (STB) chief executive Keith Tan on April 6 during the annual Tourism Industry Conference.

“The rumours about the decline or demise of business travel have proven to be greatly exaggerated,” said Tan. “In the US and Europe, our MICE stakeholders tell us that there is tremendous demand for face-to-face business meetings and many of them have resumed.”

Tan also highlighted the pent-up demand to do business face-to-face again after two years of doing so virtually.

“They need to pursue sales, need to deepen existing partnerships with business partners… so I think the higher tier of business travel will remain and continue to grow because people have recognised after 2 years that there are limitations to what Zoom can do,” he was quoted as saying in The Business Times.

Looking ahead to new business events trends, STB will be focusing on emerging areas that are relevant to future needs, such as sustainability, urban solutions, food security and energy security, among others.

Kicking off the pipeline of events in the coming weeks with over 25,000 attendees expected are Singapore International Water Week; CleanEnviro Summit Singapore; and Asia Tech x Singapore.

Other events, such as the 60th International Young Lawyers Congress, the Global Health Security Conference and the Singapore FinTech Festival, are also slated for later this year.

“In this way, our MICE sector can support the growth of Singapore-based companies in these areas, giving them a competitive advantage and strengthen Singapore’s relevance at a time when globalisation is under severe pressure,” said Tan.