As a key travel and transit hub in the region, Singapore has scope to establish itself as a safe and secure meeting place for businesses amid Covid-19, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.
"Whoever can ensure visitors' health security in a faster and better way will gain a competitive advantage. Singapore recognises this and has every intention to be amongst the leading lights in this area," he said. "If we are able to build and operationalise these capabilities, it will set us apart from many other competitors."
Speaking at the start of TravelRevive, a two-day travel event, at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, he was outlining how Singapore wants to position itself as a leading Mice destination in a time when businesses may not be able to meet due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions between countries.
TravelRevive, organised by Messe Berlin (Singapore) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), is the first trade show here to pilot new safety measures under the newly developed hybrid event trade show prototype for safe business events, safe itineraries and digital enabler tools.
Yesterday, Mr Chan said Singapore is "not going to play defensive by just trying to get back to where we were" in the Mice space.
Beyond that, Singapore wants to break new ground and establish a new level of experiences that the country can provide.
He said that the Republic's lack of a large local population and its reliance on external visitors mean that it cannot shut itself off from the world, and needs to adopt a risk-management rather than a risk-elimination approach.
While Singapore had closed its borders and imposed travel restrictions in the early days of the pandemic for health and safety purposes, it now has the confidence to progressively resume travel and connect with the rest of the world, Mr Chan said, citing how Singapore has stronger and more varied testing options, as well as tighter contact tracing capabilities.
"However, beyond merely resuming travel in a safe and sustainable manner, Singapore is going to pioneer several things to lead the reinvention of global travel, especially in the Mice industry," he said.
The gradual resumption of Mice events is one of seven areas which industry-led coalition groups, convened by the Emerging Stronger Taskforce, are studying.
The Alliance for Action team that has been tasked with bringing back travellers aims to take steps to re-establish Singapore's lead as a Mice destination and maintain the country's position as one of the top 10 cities in the world by international visitor traffic.
The TravelRevive hybrid event, with its trials of Mice safety measures, is intended to pave the way for more international trade shows to be held here in the first quarter of 2021.
STB signed three memorandums of understanding with exhibition organisers Fiera Milano, Messe Munich and Informa Tech yesterday. The one-year MOU with Informa Tech and the Infocomm Media Development Authority will see Informa Tech - which organises the London Tech week - launch a new international technology event in Singapore.
The event is currently slated for the second half of 2021 and will bring together industry stakeholders to discuss topics related to innovation and digital transformation in the tech sector.
Meanwhile, both Fiera Milano and Messe Munich will be establishing their South-east Asia regional headquarters in Singapore, to strengthen their links in Asean.
"(The MOUs) demonstrate that global Mice companies still retain confidence in Singapore as the global Asia node, and are expanding their presence in the region through partnerships with our local players," Mr Chan said.
Associate Professor Lawrence Loh from the National University of Singapore's business school said "what is critical now is to continue the momentum in managing the pandemic situation well locally - this pull factor will be the key differentiation that sets Singapore apart from competing meeting localities".
• Additional reporting by Cheryl Teh