Increasing the capacity for Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events will provide a much-needed boost to the badly hit Mice and tourism sector, industry players say.
Event organisers can apply to hold events with up to 250 delegates, up from a maximum of 50 attendees, from next month, the Singapore Tourism Board announced yesterday.
Mr Edward Liu, group managing director of business events management firm CEMS, said yesterday's announcement is a good move and a sign of the Government's confidence over how the virus situation is playing out here.
While Mice events are unlikely to resume immediately, given that they usually need a gestation period of about six months, the announcement will be a boost nonetheless, he said.
"There will always be interest in exhibitions and conferences. The more events we can hold, the more vibrant our economy will be."
Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers president Aloysius Arlando said the move offers encouragement and hope to the industry.
"The announcement is certainly a welcome move, and we of course hope that through the pilots that are to come, they will give us greater or richer data points and insights for us to open up the industry to even larger-scale events and, when travel and border restrictions are relaxed, to welcome international visitors back to our events in Singapore," he said.
Mr Don Tsai, project director of events management firm First Wave Agency, said that allowing pilot events with up to 250 attendees is important for an industry which saw almost all its firms taking a nosedive after Covid-19 hit.
Referring to business discussions in the last few months, he said: "There was a lot of conversation, but there was little business during that period, with maybe 10 to 20 per cent of business conversion in terms of events going virtual."
The announcement serves a secondary purpose of letting people around the world know that Singapore is restarting business, and that gives clients confidence when firms talk to them to plan future events, Mr Tsai added.
As part of moves to bolster the industry, the Alliance for Action on Enabling Safe and Innovative Visitor Experiences, one of the coalitions convened by the Emerging Stronger task force, has worked closely with industry stakeholders and government agencies to explore new ways to facilitate safe and innovative experiences for visitors amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The alliance has developed a prototype for safe trade shows and exhibitions, which are larger events that would not have been permitted to resume in their original format. This prototype will be tested at a few trade shows, starting with new trade show TravelRevive in November.
By the numbers
The Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) sector is a key part of Singapore's tourism industry, with the Republic being the top business events destination in the Asia-Pacific over the past few years.
Number of jobs supported by the Mice ecosystem.
Value-add contributed by the Mice industry in a year.
Contribution to Singapore's annual gross domestic product.
Number of jobs and training opportunities that more than 220 companies have made available in the tourism sector since April.
Number of people who found jobs or took on new roles in tourism through the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Programme between April and July.
The alliance has also designed safe itineraries, which could include leisure activities like small-group private tours around Singapore with concierge-like services, which will be offered to the TravelRevive delegates.
Ms Jean Wang, chairman of the Society of Tourist Guides Singapore, said that with the lengths that business travellers would probably have to go to in order to come to Singapore, they could possibly look to extend their stay and do more sightseeing than most Mice travellers usually would before Covid-19, when they tended to leave shortly after their events ended.
"Now, they may be encouraged to stay here for a longer period, and that could be a good opportunity for us," she said.
Compared with before Covid-19, when tour guides focused on providing informative commentary on places visited, they are now required to be more like coordinators for tourists and visitors, Ms Wang added.
This includes making sure visitors adhere to contact tracing procedures and comply with other safety requirements when they leave and return to their hotels, she said.