SINGAPORE - Travel and tourism players on Wednesday (Nov 25) welcomed Singapore's - and the Asia-Pacific's - first physical trade show since the Covid-19 outbreak, a key step towards having more such trade shows held here.
TravelRevive, a two-day trade show being held at Sands Expo & Convention Centre until Thursday, was made possible with the introduction of new safety measures to help ensure the health and safety of exhibitors and attendees alike.
Among the exhibitors at TravelRevive was tech solutions firm LDR, which has designed walking tours and recently pivoted to provide solutions for virtual conferences and events.
LDR business development manager Kelvin Yeo said that while the trade show was rather quiet, he prefers a quiet physical show over a virtual one which may come with more meeting opportunities.
"I'd rather have one quality conversation in person than 100 conversations over Zoom," he said, noting that virtual conferences and meetings with multiple breakout rooms can be chaotic.
TravelRevive is the first pilot trade show to be held in Singapore under the newly-developed hybrid event trade show prototype for safe business events, safe itineraries and digital enabler tools, as part of a collaboration under one of the Emerging Stronger Taskforce's Alliance for Action groups.
This prototype is for larger events with more attendees than the limit of 250 imposed for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) events for which the Singapore Tourism Board continues to accept pilot applications.
It is the first physical trade show to be held here since the Singapore Airshow in February. The hybrid event also features virtual conferences.
Close to 1,000 attendees and exhibitors are expected on-site at TravelRevive, which is organised by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Messe Berlin (Singapore), including some 65 foreign delegates from 14 countries.
A total of 36 exhibition booths were set up, with each exhibitor getting a dedicated meeting pod to take discussions further. These booths and pods were equipped with plexi-glass panels, which enable face-to-face discussions to be held safely.
The Warehouse Hotel director of sales Elaine Luei said that while there are fewer buyers at the event as compared with pre-Covid trade shows, the measures put in place, such as the plexi-glass shields at each meeting pod, are thorough and "help to protect people".
"Setting up the booth was quite (fuss-free) and we didn't really have to worry, and the (organisers) were quite proactive in telling us what to expect," she added.
As part of safe management measures, attendees were separated into cohorts of 20 and interactions were limited across groups. They were also given TraceTogether tokens to facilitate contact tracing.
Foreign delegates, as well as some local attendees and exhibitors, were required to take antigen rapid tests on Wednesday.
STB executive director for exhibitions and conferences Andrew Phua explained that different testing approaches are being used for the various Mice events.
"For each pilot event, we work closely with the Ministry of Health. It's really quite customised in (seeing what is) the best way and best approach to test... and at the same time, ensure that everybody is tested safely and business events can be held in a safe and trusted manner," he said, adding that about 500 people will be tested at TravelRevive.
Safe itineraries, which include private museum visits and virtual tours, have been curated for foreign delegates, who are required to take a test on alternate days, in addition to the tests required on event days.
Changi Airport Group has also developed an online tool called the Safe Travel Concierge to help travellers manage their visits by customising a travel checklist of pre-entry requirements, such as a swab test.
Among the foreign delegates at the event on Wednesday was Ms Natjariya Rodprukpoom, managing director of Thailand-based tour agency Asia Hub, who is in Singapore until Nov 28.
Besides the opportunity to meet some of its hotel and attraction partners and discuss opportunities for when travel is less restricted, her visit to Singapore is also about assessing the situation for tourists here, she said.
"We want to know how Singapore takes care of the tourists, how it controls the (infection spread), and what is going on with the tourist industry in Asia. Coming here, I see how Singapore has developed the technology to (track us and our itineraries), and Singapore has done very well," Ms Natjariya said.
Correction note: This article has been edited for accuracy.