At Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) year-in-review, it was revealed that business travel and events raked up S$3.4bil (US$2.5bil) in tourism receipts last year, up 10% from the previous year. Visitor arrivals also rose 14% to 2mil.
Overall, the biggest markets last year were China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Japan. However, no official data was released about the biggest inbound markets for business events.
According to STB’s Jeannie Lim, executive director for conventions, meetings and incentive travel, the overall rankings can be used to reflect business travel patterns too.
But for STB, marketing strategies vary with business and leisure visitors. For the former, many decision-makers and global marketing heads still sit in the UK and US, with some in Australia.
“We need to make sure we market where the decision makers sit,” Lim told CEI. “So our business development and marketing efforts are in those markets. But in terms of the actual attendees who come in, it’s still reflective of the top 10 or 15 [in the overall source market rankings].”
While there are many factors that could have contributed to Singapore’s growth in events, STB attributes some success to a slate of high-profile events last year, the biggest of which was the Trump-Kim summit.
“The coverage of the Trump-Kim summit saw about 2.36 billion views with 8,000 pieces of content that mentioned Singapore in its headlines,” said Keith Tan, chief executive for STB. “There was a spike in searches during and after the summit. Google registered over 2 million hits on ‘Where is Singapore?’ searches in the US alone, and that was one day before the summit.”
Travel metasearch and online travel agencies in the US such as Kayak and Travelzoo also recorded heightened interest for Singapore.
Lynette Pang, assistant chief executive (marketing), alluded to other events coming in after the summit. “The [Bloomberg] New Economy Forum, for example, was a direct outcome of the Trump-Kim summit,” she said. “In fact, they wanted a lot of the same experiences as the summit. They held it in Capella. So that was a nice outcome.”
The Bloomberg forum was turned around in only 10 weeks after a last-minute move from Beijing to Singapore. In reference to that, Pang said that “Singapore can pull off major events in a short span of time”.
The success of Crazy Rich Asians also helped to spark interest, according to STB. “The wedding scene at Gardens by the Bay helped to promote the garden for MICE events [as an] unconventional events space here,” said Andrew Phua, director, exhibitions and conferences for STB.
While it’s still early days for STB to measure the conversion impact of the film and the summit to Singapore’s events industry, the team is optimistic that more high-profile events will follow.
“When we did IMEX Vegas in October last year, there was a lot of interest. It may not have direct conversion, but we did see a lot more RFPs, and a lot more site inspections for corporate clients. A renewed interest,” said Lim.