Asian government representatives and global Business Events industry leaders agree on next steps of collaboration

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The Business Events and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry in Asia is on course to catalyse its potential after global industry leaders and government representatives agreed on five key areas of collaboration at the Joint Leadership Summit (JLS) at The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore on 5 October.

Senior representatives from global Business Events organisers underlined their commitment in the region and the vital role that the industry play in supporting national and regional governments in implementing their economical and societal development priorities. They emphasised that the sector is a critical element in delivering post-pandemic recovery that can be immediately utilised by governments.

Industry leaders, trade associations and government representatives present agreed to develop five key areas to activate the potential of Business Events and to boost the growth of the industry through international and regional collaboration.

1) Define Business Events as “controlled gatherings”

Business Events are not public gatherings, but highly controlled assemblies. They need to be classified as distinct from generic mass gatherings. This will ensure that, in future situations, the sector can continue to operate and fulfil its strategic role for governments.

2) Establish Business Events as both an economic and tourism tool

Business Events are economic, scientific, and professional in nature. Beyond serving as a key pillar of the tourism and hospitality sector, it also provides industry platforms to discuss and achieve strategic priorities. Therefore, it is imperative that business events are recognised as tools and platforms to be leveraged upon in the context of trade, economic development, social and investment, and policies should be mirrored as such.

3) Accessibility

The success of Business Events that gathers international delegates relies on accessibility of respective markets. Accessibility is driven by cross-regional alignments on issues related to travel, immigration, and health & safety protocols. There needs to be cross-regional collaboration to reduce accessibility hurdles to empower Business Events to deliver their benefits.

4) Talent and capability development

The pandemic has caused a massive talent loss to the industry and attracting new and existing talent back will be among the key challenges to ensure the increasing demand of physical business events is met as the region continues to reopen. The region needs to come together to address and reduce the talent gap through talent sharing and collaboration on capability development initiatives.

5) Sustainability

While reviving the region’s Business Events industry remains the key focus, there is an understanding that sustainability plays a key role in the growth and revival of the industry. More than ever, delegates and attendees are demanding greener events. Therefore, we need to seize opportunities to collaborate internationally, regionally and locally between stakeholders (countries/cities, venues, organisers and suppliers) to step up our efforts to ensure that we not only deliver on our customers’ needs, but create a more sustainable future for the industry together.

The parties will reconvene in October 2023 to review the progress and discuss additional measures to drive the next stage of growth for the region’s Business Events industry.

Dato’ Vincent Lim, President, Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Associations (AFECA), said: “All of us are united in rebuilding and reviving Asia’s Business Events and MICE industry together. We hope for businesses and governments to work with stakeholders in closer collaboration to create a powerful synergy to drive our industry forward and upwards, as it is an important and invaluable economic contributor to many countries.”

Hosea Andreas Runkat, Chairman, Indonesian Exhibition Company Association (ASPERAPI), said: “The exhibition industry performance relies on bringing together exhibitors and visitors in large gatherings. Covid-19 measures strictly prevent any mass gatherings offline, while online exhibitions – regardless of innovative digital features for doing business interactions, will never perfectly replace the advantages of in-person interactions. To revive the industry, all parties must engage in real collaboration including the government, therefore Indonesia Exhibition Companies Association (IECA/ASPERAPI) is delighted to lend its full support to the Joint Leadership Summit and Asia CEO Summit, which will help forge greater collaboration regionally and globally.”

Francis Teo, President, Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS), said: “The global economy is in a troubling state, it is more important than ever that we stand together to support and show the world that we are a united industry. We are committed to working together to drive recovery and growth, and to promote the region as a safe and welcoming destination for MICE events. The MICE industry is essential to the global economy and we will continue to support one another through these challenging times. I am confident that the measures being put in place by our respective governments, businesses as well as people across this region will ensure safety for all MICE participants. We look forward to welcoming foreign business travellers to the region soon.”

Joel Pascual, President, Philippine Association of Convention and Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers (PACEOS), said: “While the MICE industry has been allowed to open up in recent months, there is much work to be done to bring it to pre-pandemic levels and the best way to quick recovery is to foster strong collaboration between the public and private sectors. Governments can help bring much needed confidence for safe travel and safe participation while industry associations can help bring greater awareness on the importance of MICE towards a quick economy reboot. Private MICE stakeholders will do well to explore collaborative efforts to help each other bolster MICE within the region.”

Richard Ireland, President, Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS), said: “These are exciting times for the Business Events and MICE industry in Asia. While different markets are experiencing varying stages of reopening, the region has come together to agree on key areas of collaboration to catalyse the potential and growth of Business Events in Asia. We look forward to working with our regional and global partners to forge a brighter and more sustainable future for the industry together.”

Sumate Sudasna, President, Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA), said: “The Joint Leadership Summit and Asia CEO Summit serves the purpose of uniting the business events industry in this region. The recognition on the contribution to national and regional economies, knowledge and legacies that events generate is essential and timely. Kudos to our industry friends in Singapore on this initiative which will certainly strengthen Southeast Asia as a respected destination for international events.”