SINGAPORE - From a sunset cruise around some of Singapore's offshore islands to a walking tour of Chinatown, business travellers now have more incentives to drop in.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is expanding a scheme that gives corporate groups free leisure experiences while they are in town, as it positions itself to claim a bigger chunk of the business travel and meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions (BTMice) market.
This comes on the back of strong growth in the sector, with the Republic receiving more than 2.9 million such visitors last year, a 12.1 per cent growth over 2017.
They spent $4.68 billion - not even counting what they splurged on sightseeing, entertainment and gaming - a 7.2 per cent increase over the year before, the STB said on Tuesday (Sept 10).
The STB's In Singapore Incentives and Rewards (Inspire) programme, previously available only to corporate groups from South-east Asia and select regions, will now be open to groups worldwide.
Those travelling to Singapore by end-2021 with a minimum of 20 foreign attendees and three day stay here can apply. The Inspire programme provides qualifying groups with a selection of 60 complimentary experiences in areas such as entertainment and nightlife and team-building activities.
Dr Edward Koh, STB's executive director of Conventions, Meetings and Incentive Travel, told The Straits Times that business events that have come up with more engaging content for delegates may have contributed to a rise in the number of attendees.
Demand for stronger destination experiences is a continuing trend for corporate meetings, he added.
Dr Koh declined to reveal the cost of the Inspire scheme, which began in 2013, but said that it is a "collated industry effort" that involves the sharing of costs.
Growth momentum is expected to continue for the sector, he said, with Singapore playing host to large meetings including next year's Lions Clubs International Convention, expecting to bring 20,000 foreign attendees.
Emerging clusters, such as advanced manufacturing, fintech, smart logistics and lifestyle have also drawn more visitors for exhibitions and conferences, he added.
The STB's focus on growing the BTMice sector comes as overall tourism receipts have slowed amid rising economic uncertainty and more visitors coming for shorter trips.