Singapore has outpaced most advanced economies to fully vaccinate 80% of its 5.7 million people against COVID-19, making it one of the most inoculated countries in the world and paving the way for it to forge ahead with its reopening. As we look ahead and eagerly anticipate the restart of travel to Singapore, we sat down with Destination Asia Singapore’s General Manager, Matthew Smith, to help us navigate what post-pandemic M&I travel will look like in the Lion City, which new travel trends we are likely to see, and how Destination Asia Singapore is preparing for the future.
What can Singapore offer organizers that simply can’t be found elsewhere?
Singapore has always had an outstanding product offer to pull off a seamless international event; providing a fantastic mix of East and West in one stunning, modern destination. However, I think it’s Singapore’s renowned calibre in providing world best practices and exceptionally high standards when it comes to safe event management that simply excels and outperforms countries not only around the region but globally too.
Throughout the past 18 months, Singapore has trialled different event processes and protocols to ensure we have the right solutions in place. Since trialling and perfecting these protocols, Singapore has been selected for a number of major international events, with organisers knowing the destination could live up to expectations and in a safe professional manner, despite the ongoing pandemic.
Easy flight access into Singapore has always been a huge benefit and this again will be the case as international flights increase and more guests are able to fly directly into Singapore’s Changi Airport.
How has Destination Asia Singapore adapted and innovated during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Destination Asia Singapore has been at the forefront of innovation and safety measures here in Singapore. We have worked closely with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on a number of programs; developed video content on what to expect for our clients; aligned all of our local suppliers; and accredited and trained our staff on a whole range of courses, including Singapore Safe Events Ambassadors to offer in-house support for all of our future events. We have also rehauled our product offering and relooked at our pricing structure to ensure there are no hidden costs associated with COVID-19 testing and staffing. We really want to make the process as painless as possible for our clients!
What has impressed you most on how the pandemic has been handled in Singapore?
Personally, I think the Singaporean government has done an outstanding job. Singapore immediately rolled out a TraceTogether app which is used for tracking movements to venues, shops, and restaurants, so when a cluster happens authorities can quickly contain and test. At the time of writing, we are also over 83% fully vaccinated and we even had the choice of which vaccine we would prefer.
The government has stated that we won’t go back to lockdown unless ICUs get overwhelmed and we will open our borders carefully to return to normal life. They even made special mention of international events happening again which is great to hear! We have started to see some of these borders already open which is a great early sign and hope by end of the year we are on track.
What new trends do you see taking shape for 2022/23?
Taking my sales hat off, I really see the partnership of international event organisers and local DMCs coming back to the forefront of pulling off sensational events. DMCs with their vast local knowledge, understanding of what works and the requirements in place, and connections with both local suppliers and governments will play a pivotal role in getting any event from the planning stage to execution. Pre-COVID-19, I had seen this changing slightly with DMCs being seen as more operational than strategic in the partnership.
Which markets do you expect to recover first and are you seeing many bookings coming in?
Markets that have been strong throughout is LATAM with a number of good-sized event requests, with the UK and US now starting to really pick up with a number of inquiries for mid-2022 onwards.
If you can choose any place to dine out in Singapore, where would it be and what would you order?
I have two young kids so I like a place with a bit of noise and space to move around, so my kids can enjoy themselves too. The Alkaff Mansion is one of my personal favourites as the setting is simply stunning. Being a heritage building set in the bush, they make the most wonderful cocktails and the food is always sensational. For brunch, lunch, or dinner it never fails, but I do love their brunch offer with its mix of some local and European delights. And yes, the venue is also a very popular gala dinner option for groups, due to its beautiful grounds and the awesome service team!