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Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner

Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner

Mr Aloysius Arlando, President SACEOS,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1. Thank you for inviting me to the 40th anniversary gala dinner of SACEOS. I am happy to be here this evening, to join in the celebrations for this significant milestone of SACEOS and of our MICE industry in Singapore. I would also like to thank Aloysius for his leadership and for sharing the possibilities for the future of our Singapore MICE industry, through the Expo 2.0 Launch Festival. 

MICE industry’s contributions to Singapore’s economy

2. Globally, economic growth over the past year has been muted owing to uncertainties brought about by US-China trade tensions, Brexit and other geopolitical developments. Despite the uncertain global economic climate, and strong competition for the MICE segment in our region, Singapore’s MICE industry is performing well with strong potential for growth. In 2018, the MICE industry generated approximately 3.8 billion Singapore dollars in value added or 0.8% of Singapore’s GDP. Aside from the value add to the Singapore economy, MICE benefits Singapore’s economy in many other ways. Through MICE, we have strengthened our position as a global business hub and key node within Asia, allowing us to attract more investment opportunities and building thought leadership to complement our key industry clusters.

3. In 2018, Singapore welcomed close to 3 million BT-MICE visitors, an increase of about 12% from 2017. Last October, I announced that we had anchored ITB Asia, Asia’s leading travel tradeshow, in Singapore for another three years. Besides ITB Asia, we can look forward to other major trade shows, association congresses and inaugural business events taking place in Singapore this year.

4. In April, we will welcome two of them - the Millionaire Club Indonesia 10th Anniversary event, the largest Indonesian incentive group with an expected attendance of 8,500 delegates, and the 142nd International Trademark Association Annual Meeting’s first Southeast Asia edition. In June, we will have the World Aquaculture 2020 in Singapore for the first time, and we look forward to welcoming around 20,000 overseas delegates for the 103rd Lions Clubs International Convention in the same month. The Lions Clubs International Convention will be Singapore’s largest Association Convention to date.

5. Several inaugural trade exhibitions are also planned for 2020 – such as Gamescom Asia, and Food & Hotel Asia, which has evolved into two shows, one for Hospitality, Restaurant and Café, and one for the F&B industry. The Singapore Airshow and Singapore International Water Week will also be held this year.

6. We will continue to grow a strong pipeline of business events for the coming years to strengthen Singapore’s position as a choice destination for quality events, and to maximise the tourism spending from the organisers and participants when they are in Singapore.

Opportunities for our businesses and workers

7. The sustained strong performance of our MICE industry has generated many opportunities for Singapore businesses and Singaporean workers. In 2018, the MICE industry created up to 8,000 direct jobs and contributed around 26,000 additional jobs in the economy through other sectors. With the sector transforming through digitalisation and technology, new opportunities and higher value jobs are also being created in areas such as data management and product development.

8. This is evident within SingEx, whose Digital team has more than doubled from 5 to 12 staff within the last two years. SingEx recognised that there was a need to better manage the large amount of data generated and residing in multiple systems, to generate valuable business insights. They created a role in Data Governance which is filled by Senior Manager Ronnie Tok, who supports the SingEx business by supplying data to all user departments today. Part of Ronnie’s job is also to safeguard data privacy. Other new roles were created within the Digital team to support better customer experience through data-derived customer journey insights, innovation and deployment of new enterprise IT systems. The team’s efforts have led to the roll-out of differentiated zone-based pricing and improved programming.

9. To cite another example, destination management company Pacific World has a team which leverages technology to drive product development. Using data analytics, the team is able to understand consumer trends and better focus their business on products and services that have been good revenue generators. Leveraging e-commerce on a new business platform, they have been able to scale their inventory and access previously untapped markets. The group has thus been able to go beyond the B2C marketplace, expanding their offerings through B2B sales, to provide better tours and experiences to meet their corporate clients’ diverse needs.


10. To sustain long-term growth in the sector, we need to continue to drive capability development and innovation. I am pleased to share that STB is launching a new initiative to build a pipeline of new events anchored in Singapore. STB will set up a S$2 million fund to support the initiative and will partner leading event organisers including Clarion, CloserStill Media, Comexposium, MPI and SingEx.

Recognition of the strong partnership between government and SACEOS

11. The achievements by the MICE industry are due to the strong collaboration between government, businesses and key partners like SACEOS, working together to promote and secure business events, drive capability development and create good jobs for Singaporeans. Tonight, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of SACEOS, I would like to recognise the contributions of SACEOS as a valued partner in our journey to develop Singapore as a MICE hub in Asia.


12. Over the years, SACEOS has led in the efforts to transform the industry, such as in developing and upholding industry standards and in enhancing professionalism of the MICE workforce. This has allowed Singapore to differentiate ourselves from the competition based on our ability to curate, produce and organise high-profile events. We have been ranked the Top Meeting City in Asia-Pacific for 17 consecutive years by the International Congress and Convention Association based on 2018’s rankings.

13. SACEOS has also embarked on initiatives to build capabilities and create opportunities for the industry, such as working with STB and WeChat to launch the world’s first country-level WeChat Mini Programme in November last year. The programme provides information in Chinese about Singapore as a MICE destination, as well as our leisure offerings to Chinese MICE travellers.

14. SACEOS has also led in regional collaborative efforts, working with international partners to develop a forward-looking 2030 vision for the MICE industry. They developed the Asia Pacific Community Building Manifesto 2018. In 2019, SACEOS worked with ASEAN association leaders on the Asia Pacific Community Pledge, where the association leaders agreed to collectively develop a stronger and more sustainable MICE ecosystem in ASEAN.

15. Much good work has been done, but we must not rest on our laurels. The MICE industry is constantly evolving, and is embracing new formats for events that allow for deeper engagement, more immersive experiences and more effective connections. Emerging consumer and industry trends, together with stronger regional competition, will have an impact on our MICE industry, its business models and manpower requirements. We need to work even closer together to enable a more responsive and coordinated approach between government and businesses.

Conclusion


16. To conclude, I would like to congratulate SACEOS on its 40th anniversary.

17. I look forward to seeing many more positive developments from Singapore’s MICE industry and from SACEOS, and I wish all of you a happy and prosperous year ahead.

18. Thank you.

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