Surekha Ragavan
Nov 26, 2018

Why Singapore is the most 'competitive' events city in Asia

A key explanation for Singapore’s success is that its government really does “get it”.

Why Singapore is the most 'competitive' events city in Asia

Gaining Edge, advisors for the meetings and events industry, released a global competitive index to rank destinations and cities based on their ability to pull in business events. The index was launched at the recent ICCA Annual Congress in Dubai.

While ICCA is a source of how many meetings are held around the world, Gary Grimmer, CEO for Gaining Edge, said that this index is an indicator of how many meetings a city should expect, and is aimed to help cities with goal setting and help them in their meetings strategy for the year.

According to the index, Singapore is ranked the most competitive in Asia, followed by Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Singapore wins top spot in competitiveness as well as number of meetings occurring. 

The report states that the city state is the world’s best case study in relation to a government that truly understands and fully exploits the international convention industry. It added that a key explanation for Singapore’s world renowned success is that its government really does “get it” when considering the value of the meetings industry in helping to build its trade-based economy.

“The [Singapore] government has a very sophisticated understanding of the value of the industry and leverages meetings as a key strategy for growing trade and strengthening its knowledge and creative economy. It has a whole-of-government approach to business events and that’s a key reason why they are able to look at their competitors in the rear view mirror,” said Grimmer.

Joewin Tan, CEO for Huone Singapore, piped in: “As a small country, spending on travel and tourism in Singapore over the past decade has grown at an astounding rate. This number is rising steadily, contributing almost 10% of our nation’s GDP.

“When the government understands the importance of international events, effort will be put in to position its country as an attractive destination. There is no point for individual players such as venue providers or event organisers to invest in innovation if the country does not have the infrastructure to host such international events.”

She cited the example of Singapore Tourism Board signing deals with Changi Airport Group and Singapore Airlines to promote Singapore as a destination, as well their partnership with Alipay. “It is incredibly important for the government to understand the effect of international events on tourism,” she said.

According to ICCA rankings, Singapore is sixth most successful in the world in terms of number of international meetings.

But is this level of government support lacking elsewhere in the region? Grimmer seems to think so: “This support and understanding is lacking in many parts of Asia as well as the rest of the world.  When a government approaches business events as simply a tourism market niche, they are largely missing the point and will likely not be successful in leveraging the true power of the industry.”

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for other cities. He said that governments are increasingly recognising the importance of the industry and “as that trend continues and governments develop more rational policies”, Singapore will potentially face more competition from the region.

“But, from past experience, [Singapore] will likely find strategic solutions for staying ahead of the power curve,” said Grimmer.

To pick the most competitive cities, Gaining Edge focused on the ‘product’ issues, like hotel and facility capacity and competitive advantages a city has in terms of the size of their local association community, their cost factors and the destination’s appeal.

Grimmer said: “Our index focuses on a destination’s overall attractiveness and staging capabilities to compare relative competitiveness.  Destinations can then anticipate their ‘fair share’ of business and address their business goals strategically.  If they are below fair share they can look to the issues they can control, like numbers of bid personnel, their promotional programs and their brand development as ways to improve their outcomes.”


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