Singapore has never been so attractive to business travellers as well as meetings and incentive groups, it seems. Recently ranked as among the world’s top three cities for meetings, and as Asia’s top country and city for meetings by the Union of International Associations, last year its business travel and meetings, incentives, exhibition and convention (BTMICE) industry accounted for three million visitor arrivals, 28 per cent of the total and 35 per cent (€2 billion) of total tourism receipts.
Among large events Singapore captured were the Games Convention Asia 2007, Imaging Expo Singapore, Photo Imaging X-Change (PIX) 2007, FDI World Dental Federation Congress and the inaugural ITB Asia. And there is no shortage of new attractions to power this growth, from the Singapore Flyer (opening in March 2008), the world’s highest observation wheel with views out over the South China Sea, to the first-ever Formula One night race in September 2008.
Yet there’s no doubt that with increased popularity, hotel rates have been rising quickly. Speaking exclusively to Business Traveller, Aloysius Arlando, assistant chief executive (BTMICE Group), said that this was the product of two main forces. “Firstly, the reason rates have risen quickly is because post-1997, and 2001, and also because of SARS, there was very depressed pricing for Singapore’s hotels, and they were below the market in terms of what they offered guests and with regards to the region as a whole, and that has now been corrected. I’d also say that the rise in rates is as a result of the growth potential not only in Singapore but the region as a whole, so if you look at the rates in our competitor regions, they too have been going up quickly.”
Arlando said he expected rates to continue to rise, by perhaps as much as 20 per cent next year, but said that hotel companies would set their rates according to what the market could take. “Hotels are very mindful that it would be ludicrous that they price themselves out of the market, so market forces will come into play, even with strong demand,” he added.
Instead, Singapore is likely to concentrate on greater segmentation of the market, with prices competitive for three, four and five-star sectors, as well as for individual business travellers, incentives and association meetings, he said. “Pricing is always a concern, of course. But we need to reflect on what the destination can offer, and pricing cannot be a real concern looking at the events which are coming to Singapore in the next two years.”
Further into the future, he said that the Singapore government has released 15 parcels of land for future hotel development, and more than 5,000 rooms would soon be coming online, including over 500 rooms in the largest Ibis in Asia-Pacific, which would open in 2009, as well as a new Crowne Plaza at Changi and a Capella hotel.
SINGAPORE’S NEW ATTRACTIONS
Other new attractions include:
Marina Bay Sands
Opening in 2009, this is a high-intensity mixed-use integrated resort located along the Marina Bay waterfront which will add more than 100,000 sqm of MICE space and 2,500 hotel rooms to Singapore’s tourism infrastructure, along with entertainment venues, retail outlets, and bars and restaurants.
Resorts World at Sentosa
Opening in 2010 this will offer four major attractions including the very first Universal Studios theme park in Southeast Asia, along with other lifestyle experiences including dining outlets, shopping options, outdoor entertainment and six hotels offering some 1,800 rooms.
The Gardens by the Bay
A SG$1 billion (€500 million), 94-hectare green oasis in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District, estimated for completion in 2011.