Coronavirus: VTLs

Singapore set to hold largest Mice events since start of pandemic

VTLs, relaxed rules to give sector boost, help draw large number of local, global visitors

The Republic is expecting to hold some of its largest meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) events this year since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, bolstered by vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) and the relaxation of safe management measures (SMMs).

One of the events slated is expecting as many as 35,000 visitors, surpassing the previous record at the Singapore Airshow last month, which saw close to 13,000 trade attendees and almost 600 exhibitors.

The relaxed rules, which took effect from last Tuesday, mean that the capacity of larger events is now subject to 50 per cent of the venue's capacity limit, instead of specific capacity limits. Zoning requirements have also been scrapped.

Food&HotelAsia, which is holding its food and beverage show in September and another show for hotels, restaurants and cafes in October, is expecting about 35,000 visitors for the September show and 30,000 visitors for the one in October.

The relaxed rules will help greatly in attracting a large number of local and international attendees, said Mr Martyn Cox, Informa Markets' event director of hospitality, food and beverage for Singapore.

Find - Design Fair Asia, a furniture, interiors and design fair to be held in September, is expecting close to 20,000 participants from 15 to 20 countries.

Mr Mel Shah, the vice-president of Asia at dmg events, one of the event's co-organisers, said the VTLs and simplified travel rules will be a huge help.

The simplified testing rules, such as unsupervised antigen rapid tests for VTL travellers, will also help to draw larger delegations of business people, as they lessen the administrative burden.

Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) 2022, which will be held next month alongside the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore, expects more than 15,000 participants across both events.

SIWW 2022 marks the resumption of in-person meetings for the event after a hiatus brought about by the pandemic. Mr Ryan Yuen, managing director of SIWW, said its last physical event was held in 2018.

This year, SIWW will be seeing participants from many countries, including 17 VTL countries.

The relaxed SMMs have also helped the organiser of the Singapore International Jewelry Expo 2022 plan for a larger number of visitors. About 13,000 to 15,000 attendees are expected in July.

Resources that once had to be assigned to manage zoning can now be freed up to focus on other aspects of the show, such as facilitating networking, said Mr Edward Liu, managing director of Conference & Exhibition Management Services, the event organiser.

The managing director of Experia Events, Mr Leck Chet Lam, said that before the introduction of VTLs, most of its events were held virtually.

"Coupled with expanded VTLs and (the) progressive opening up of international borders, the outlook for the long term is promising," he said, adding that further opening up would revive the Mice industry.

Mr Jean-Francois Quentin, group chief executive of event management company Constellar, said it has seen increased interest from international partners and clients keen on bringing its events to Singapore.

Two events that were originally planned to be held in Hong Kong - Jewellery & Gem World in September and Cosmoprof Asia in November - will now take place at the Singapore Expo instead, he said.

Constellar is also planning for more physical attendees for this year's editions of the Singapore FinTech Festival and Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific.

But Mr Quentin added that clearer parameters are needed to attract more global guests here as Mice events require months of lead time for planning. "Allowing an increase in physical capacity a few days before a show starts will not boost foreign attendee numbers as people need a longer lead time to make travel plans," he said.

"We expect more measures to be introduced soon that will allow events such as physical consumer shows and large-scale in-person events to return with greater certainty and scale."

Singapore Tourism Board's executive director of exhibitions and conferences, Mr Poh Chi Chuan, said it has been receiving requests for site inspections from event organisers to visit Singapore to prepare for upcoming events. Singapore has also secured a strong line-up of events for this year and beyond.

Other notable events this year include Asia Tech x Singapore, World Cities Summit 2022 and the Singapore Apex Business Summit.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2022, with the headline Singapore set to hold largest Mice events since start of pandemic. Subscribe