The island nation of Singapore has been one of the most popular Asian Mice destinations, thanks to its top-notch infrastructure, stability, security and geographic location. However, in a highly competitive market, surrounded by equally attractive Mice propositions in the same geographical region, will Singapore attract more Mice business from the Middle East? Despite a weakened global market, 2017 saw 140,000 tourist visitor arrivals from the Middle East into Singapore, with the number expected to further increase this year.
To give a fillip to Mice travel from Middle East and South Asia markets, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) organised a familiarisation week for stakeholders with the theme, ‘With Passion, Forging New Possibilities’. Participants got to sample Singapore’s newest offerings for meetings and incentive group travel.
This is in tandem with a new rebranding that focuses on the ‘soul of Singapore’. STB has grouped potential visitors based on their lifestyles, interests and reasons for travel to form seven major ‘Passion Tribes’ of foodies, collectors, explorers, action seekers, culture shapers, socialisers and progressors. The brand personality films, featuring notable Singaporean personalities, seek to delve into the story behind the achievements.
“We felt that the real Singapore story needs to emerge and move away from being seen as transactional to aspirational. Over the last five decades, Singapore has built a strong reputation as a global business and tourism hub, recognised for its quality infrastructure, safety, stability, connectedness and accessibility,” said GB Srithar, regional director – South Asia, Middle East & Africa (SAMEA) at STB. “We are seeing greater interest from the Middle East in Singapore. With travellers becoming increasingly discerning, they look for curated itineraries that allow them to understand a little more about the local cultures in a destination through its people. Singapore’s new brand identity Passion Made Possible allows us to showcase Singapore’s offerings through the voices of the local talents.”
As a Mice destination, Singapore is a top-of-mind option in Asia. The challenge it has faced is one of perception: while its safety and cleanliness are universally applauded, its creative and interesting side isn’t so well known. For millennial travellers seeking authenticity and immersive experiences, Singapore now offers a bouquet of unconventional hospitality experiences and meeting venues. They range from restored heritage buildings such as The Art House (which was once Singapore’s Parliament building), horticultural masterpieces such as Gardens of the World, culinary and cultural outings taking in ethnic districts and Singapore’s diversity.
Jeannie Lim, executive director, Conventions, Meetings & Incentive Travel, Singapore Tourism Board, says, “We are not just talking about infrastructure or the hardware of the visitor experience. What we are doing now is quite different from what we have done in the past. We are now taking an ‘inside out’ approach – featuring personalities and telling the story behind the attractions and experiences. Travellers are becoming more discerning, they don’t have a bucket list of activities that they want to tick off. They want to make sure at the end of the trip they have engagement with
In a very competitive Mice industry landscape, Singapore is looking to pack diverse leisure offerings in its small geographical size, to complement business activities.
“While we continue working with our hotel partners to ensure they upgrade their facilities, we are also looking to build our capacity beyond traditional venues. Singapore now has venues such as Huone at Clarke Quay, a Finnish concept with meeting rooms on different themes, including an igloo, that has been very well received. We have worked with Singapore Zoo’s Night Safari on a concept where the meeting can take place under an airconditioned tent and they bring animals out to meet visitors. We are looking to develop personalised experiences outside conventional venues and we will see a lot more of that moving forward,” Lim adds.
Big conventions continue to be the mainstay. “The strategic industries we are focusing on include advanced manufacturing, applied health sciences, design and innovation,” says Lim. “We see ourselves as a hub for big conferences and exhibitions. Some major wins announced including the World Congress of Anaesthesiologists in 2024, as well as World Congress of Endocrinology. Singapore has successfully secured eight large congresses and tradeshows in the first half of 2017, estimated to bring in an additional 20,000 visitors.” Three headliner business events will debut in 2018 – the International Luxury Travel Mart (ILTM) – a leading luxury travel event in Asia, Campus Party, the world's largest technology-based festival and the Asian edition of Hannover Messe, which is a three-year contract.
Despite a weakened global market, the tourism sector continued to grow in the first half of 2017 for Singapore. From January to June 2017, International Visitor Arrivals (IVA) increased by four per cent over the same period last year to reach 8.5 million visitors. Tourism Receipts(TR) also grew 10 per cent to reach $12.7 billion. 2017 saw 140,000 visitor arrivals from the Middle East, expected to increase in 2018.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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