Mr Richard Ireland, President, Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers
Ladies and gentlemen,
1 Good morning. Welcome to 2023 Singapore MICE Forum, organised by SACEOS.
2 This year’s theme, “The Great Reset” signals change and hope. It is apt because of the many challenges that we as a MICE industry faced and overcome together during the dark days of COVID. So when I was asked by Ian and the team to come for the MICE Forum, I made sure to change my schedule to be here. Because having fought in the trenches with you during COVID, my team and I also wanted to be here with you as take flight.
3 2023 is an exciting year for tourism and our MICE industry.
a. Global borders have reopened, and we see a steady rebound in international travel.
b. We expect Singapore to receive ~12 to 14M visitors this year. We’ve already received more than 6M visitors in the first half of 2023 alone.
4 Our MICE industry is both driving and benefitting from this recovery. Demand for in-person events in Singapore is back stronger than before.
a. We have an exciting line-up of events this year.
b. This month, the 25th World Congress of Dermatology welcomed over 12,000 delegates from 150 countries to Singapore.
c. And large-scale exhibitions such as Food and Hotel Asia (FHA)-Food and Beverage also chose Singapore as their destination of choice. This year’s FHA had over 50,000 attendees from more than 90 countries.
d. We also welcomed new events for the first time this year, such as Vinexpo Asia and SILMO Singapore.
5 So, we have taken off well. And we have our sights firmly set for Singapore to become a global MICE destination. It’s what we envisioned even during the darkest days of COVID.
6 And to get there, we need to fire up our twin engines. First, the digital engine.
a. Events post-COVID have become more digital. It’s the new norm in the Great Reset, with the now ubiquitous application of disruptive tech, data science, analytics and AI in our MICE Industry.
b. You are now incorporating immersive digital touchpoints for in-person events and making use of insights from your tech partners.
c. These digital touchpoints not only capture the attention of event-goers, they give you valuable data and insights on consumer behaviour and interests, to create even more personalised experiences for your guests.
7 The second engine is the sustainability engine.
a. We are well aware of the growing global demand for sustainable business events and travel.
b. 80% of 580 professionals say sustainability is one of the considerations when businesses plan their meetings and events, according to a poll by the 2023 American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast.
c. So we must actively incorporate sustainability elements in our MICE strategies, with partners like SACEOS. I want to take this chance to thank SACEOS’ VP for Industry and Enterprise Sukumar Verma for your contributions and actively leading sustainability in the industry.
8 In December 2022, STB and SACEOS launched our MICE Sustainability Roadmap. It sets out clear targets and strategies to raise sustainability standards across our MICE industry over the next few years.
a. Today, I am pleased to announce we are launching a national standard for our industry, the Workshop Agreement 4 on Sustainable MICE – Guidelines for carbon emissions management. This was co-developed by SACEOS, the Singapore Standards Council which is overseen by Enterprise Singapore, and stakeholders in the MICE industry. The recommendations include:
i. Measurement boundaries, and
ii. Suggested emission reduction activities.
b. These industry standards will raise the bar in carbon footprint management, and ensure comparability across the value chain.
9 SACEOS is also refreshing their MICE Sustainability Certification to certify our local MICE industry. This refresh will reference relevant industry standards, including the new Workshop Agreement, and is expected to be completed by 2023 and rolled out in 2024.
10 Internationally, SACEOS is developing the GSTC Industry Criteria for MICE together with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and STB, which will serve as the global standard for MICE sustainability.
11 A big thank you to our partners who have contributed to developing these important national standards. These partnerships will help our MICE industry grow from strength to strength.
a. As part of the Global MICE Sustainability Alliance, STB piloted a zero-waste booth at the FHA-Food and Beverage in April with Informa Markets to introduce more sustainable booth stand solutions.
b. Since its pilot, this zero-waste booth has generated great interest among our MICE industry.
c. Please visit this booth here at the Forum, as part of the sustainability marketplace.
12 Even as we build our digital and green engines, we remain focused on what is most important - our people.
a. We will continue to find, nurture and grow our people, building a pipeline of talent for our MICE industry.
13 And we are also walking the talk in this regard. Let me share how.
a. First, with STB’s support, SACEOS developed a guide on Best Practices for Internships in the MICE industry in April.
b. STB and SACEOS consulted Institutes of Higher Learning and industry players in Singapore to curate a set of best practices for MICE businesses and interns to reference when designing and embarking on internship programmes.
c. With this guide, we hope to raise internship standards and attract our next generation of talent to our MICE industry.
d. Second, SACEOS is partnering NTUC LearningHub to roll out sustainability-related courses, to providing lifelong upskilling and reskilling opportunities.
e. These courses focus on emerging skills in sustainability. And were created to raise standards in sustainable event management and stay ahead of the curve.
f. After you complete the courses, you can also work towards obtaining MICE Sustainability certifications by SACEOS.
14 So, the Great Reset is under way. Our MICE airline is no longer grounded. We have taken off, engines roaring, and with our twin engines of digital and green driving us towards our destination of being a global MICE hub for the world.
15 My sincere thank you to all of you, my partners, my friends for journeying with us through the last few years.
16 You can count on me and my team here in Government to continue to partner you as you fly, through fair or foul weather.
17 Congratulations SACEOS, I wish you all a fruitful time at our 2023 Singapore MICE Forum!