No Covid-19 clusters linked to Mice events in recent months: STB

Itap 2021 is slated to be the biggest Mice event here since the Covid-19 outbreak started early last year. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Delegates at Gamescom Asia 2021, held at the Suntec City Convention and Exhibition Centre on Oct 15, 2021. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - There has been no Covid-19 cluster linked to meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) events here in the last few months, a sign that the preventative steps taken by the country have allowed events to be held safely.

This instils confidence that measures against the pandemic set up for the Mice sector can be eased gradually in future, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Monday (Nov 22).

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the first day of Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (Itap) 2021 at the Singapore Expo, Mr Poh Chi Chuan, STB's executive director of exhibitions and conferences, said that Covid-19 incident rates have been very low at recent events.

These include last month's Gamescom Asia and the Joint Leadership Summit, as well as last week's Bloomberg New Economy Forum and the Milken Institute Asia Summit 2021.

The Milken summit, Bloomberg forum and Itap are among the Mice shows under a pilot scheme announced on Nov 15 to ease capacity limits and zoning requirements for specific events. All participants must be fully vaccinated and take a Covid-19 test before being allowed in.

At Itap, with daily pre-event Covid-19 tests a must for vaccinated attendees, there are no requirements for participants to keep to specific zones.

Mr Poh said the Government is experimenting with different protocols so that some safe management measures can be eased "and to make Mice shows like this (Itap) an effective place where people can network in a safe and productive manner".

Besides networking opportunities, attendees can view exhibitions of the technology that is changing industries. The success of an in-person exhibition like this could pave the way for bigger shows to be held in 2022, said Mr Poh.

He said that Itap 2021, with 5,000 people expected to attend in person over the three days and up to 1,000 people in the event area at any one time, is slated to be the biggest Mice event here since the Covid-19 pandemic started early last year.

Other large Mice events include last week's three-day Restaurant Asia 2021, which was expected to draw 1,000 people a day.

In 2022, STB hopes Singapore will be able to host even larger shows.

Upcoming big events include February's Singapore Airshow and May's Tax Free World Association Asia Pacific Exhibition and Conference.

Several more events have signed on in the last few months to be held in Singapore.

They include Furniture, INteriors and Design in September next year, the Asia CEO Summit next October, the Silmo eyewear show in April 2023, and the Asean edition of the Transport Logistics and Air Cargo show in September 2023.

"This goes to show that the demand for Mice industry events is very high and we are looking at a robust pipeline," said Mr Poh.

Since July last year, STB has facilitated close to 200 business events to take place here under the Government's Safe Business Events framework, which requires event organisers to implement safe management measures.

With more vaccinated travel lanes opening up that do not require quarantine for vaccinated travellers, as well as the resumption of economic activities in Singapore, Mr Poh expects even more events to come here.

Mr Jean-Francois Quentin, group chief executive of Constellar Holdings, which organises Itap, said that being able to hold a hybrid event accommodating physical and virtual attendees at its current scale, with the help of partners like STB, is significant.

For instance, Itap's opening ceremony on Monday morning had about 300 people attending in person compared with 100 people last year. There are about 100 exhibitors physically present on site too, while last year's event, which was also at the Expo, had no on-site exhibitions and were replaced with external site tours to organisations.

"It symbolises the continued importance of face-to-face interaction for the Mice industry, as well as the renewed confidence and optimism in the return of business activity and events," said Mr Quentin, adding that he hoped 2022's edition of the event would be a fully in-person show.

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