The Lion City: Singapore


Located in Southeast Asia, Singapore has a land area of 710skm, making it one of the smallest countries in the world and the smallest in the region. Although small in size, the Lion City, as it is affectionately known, held 142 ICCA qualifying meetings in 2011 to top the Asian city 2011 ICCA rankings, as well as topping the Union of International Associations (UIA) global rankings in 2011.

Singapore rose to the top position from third in the 2011 UIA country rankings, replacing the US, and maintained its place as the top international meeting city for a fifth consecutive year.

“The MICE industry plays a significant role for the tourism sector in Singapore and it is performing consistently well despite global economic uncertainties,” says Executive Director of Conventions and Meetings and Exhibitions and Conferences at Singapore Tourism Board, Jeannie Lim. “The estimated expenditure from business travellers in 2011 was about SGD 5.6bn (US$4.5bn), an increase of 4.1 per cent,” she adds.

The number of business visitors to Singapore grew to 3.2m in 2011, an increase of 2.7 per cent from 2010. The MICE sector registered a 46 per cent growth in the number of conventions, conferences and tradeshows in 2011 compared to 2010, with 78 new and inaugural events launched last year.

“Singapore delivers on so many fronts,” says Director at event management agency Top Banana, Sue Mitchell. “It’s easy to get to, and once you get there this modern city runs smoothly; there are many great venues to choose from; and it’s a leader in innovation with many of the biggest AV and technical companies having a presence there. If you are looking for a quintessentially Asian venue for your event, however, Singapore is probably not your best option,” she adds.

Singapore’s convention venues

Located in the middle of the central business district, Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre offers 100,000sqm of meeting space. The venue, which opened in 1995, is currently undergoing a $180m modernisation programme, and will reopen in June this year.

“Suntec Singapore’s new design pays particular attention to flexibility, functionality and convertibility while integrating a high degree of advanced technology,” says Suntec Chief Executive Officer, Arun Madhok.

Developments at the venue include new retail spaces on Level One and Two, 36 convertible meeting rooms on level Three, while level Four will now offer organisers the opportunity to convert exhibition halls into entertainment spaces.

“The building has served us well over the past 17 years,” says Madhok. “With the implementation of these planned enhancements, we will continue to shape the MICE industry in Singapore well into the next decade.”

Since opening, Suntec Singapore  has hosted 18,000 events and experienced a record year in 2011 when it delivered 1,600 events and welcomed 7m visitors.

In keeping with the trend of updating and investing in MICE facilities, Singapore’s largest meetings venue Singapore Expo (Singex), unveiled its newest offer, Max Atria, in March 2012. The event space features 32 column- free rooms with foyers, a garden courtyard and rooftop space. The 12,700sqm convention wing can accommodate more than 3,500 delegates.

“The opening of Max Atria boosted the use of our overall venue capacity and we attracted new event segments and formats like ‘Confex’ events, trade conferences, seminars, product launches and banquet dinners,” says Chief Executive Officer of  Singex Group, Aloysius Arlando.

Located in the eastern part of Singapore, Singapore Expo offers 123,000sqm of indoor and outdoor space, including 10 exhibition and conference halls. Singex welcomes over 6.5m visitors and more than 700 events each year.

Integrated resorts

While the traditional conference and exhibition venues in Singapore march on with new developments, tourism projects such as integrated resorts are transforming the business travel and MICE landscape in Singapore.

Marina Bay Sands (MBS), a meetings, events and entertainment destination, includes the Sands Expo and Convention Center, which offers 250 meeting rooms and Southeast Asia’s largest ballroom.

For a more unique meeting venue at MBS, there is the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum and Sands SkyPark with a 360-degree view of the city. MBS also offers 2,500 bedrooms, while entertainment options include the Wonder Full light and water show at the event plaza, two theatres and live music at nightspot Avalon.

MBS experienced its busiest MICE month in October last year when it staged 13 tradeshows and several key conferences. The 13 tradeshows, approximately four times the monthly average since the Sands Expo and Convention Center opened in April 2010, attracted an estimated 46,000 delegates from industries including architecture, travel, hospitality and energy.

“October marked a milestone for us as our team built on the MICE momentum since we opened in April 2010,” says Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Resort Marketing Asia at the Las Vegas Corporation, John Mims. “We welcomed several new-to-Singapore shows that chose to debut at Marina Bay Sands, including the SALT Conference.”

Sentosa Island hosts Singapore’s other integrated resort, Resorts World Sentosa. The resort, often referred to as ‘Asia’s favourite playground,’ is home to Southeast Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park, as well as attractions including Wave House Sentosa and iFly Singapore. Outdoor MICE venues at Sentosa include Sky Deck, an open-air wooden platform that can host 120 guests for dinner and Tanjong Beach, which can host BBQ parties, dining alfresco-style or under marquees and all-night dancing for between 200 to 10,000 guests. New hotel properties include W Singapore Sentosa Cove, Equarius Hotel and Beach Villas.

Hotel stock

There are over 100 hotels in Singapore, with most offering conference and meetings facilities. The Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel located on Orchard Road, offers 34 function rooms and a Grand Ballroom with space for 1,000 delegates. Other hotels with meeting facilities include the Mandarin Oriental, Singapore with 13 function rooms and capacity for up to 600 delegates theatre-style, and the Grand Hyatt Singapore, which offers 25 function rooms and space for 900 theatre-style.

City in a garden

A study released in 2011 by The Economist magazine’s Intelligence Unit and Siemens ranked Singapore as the greenest city in Asia, and the opening of Gardens by the Bay, a 250-acre nature reserve has boosted the island’s green credentials.

Event spaces at Gardens by the Bay’s Bay South Garden include the Flower Field Hall in the Flower Dome, which overlooks the Flower Field display on one side. The 1.200sqm indoor space also features special LED lights on the ceiling that can change colours to suit the event.

The Meadow is Singapore’s largest outdoor garden events venue, with a standing capacity of 30,000 people, and offers views of the iconic Supertrees, vertical gardens that range in height from 25 to 50 metres. The 18 tree-like structures have environmental features such as photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy for lighting up the trees at night.

Gardens by the Bay also features horticultural themed gardens, as well as 12 food and beverage spaces.

Singapore continues to evolve to meet the needs of business visitors and will continue to invest in its infrastructure and MICE offering in 2013. “Upcoming new developments such as the River Safari, Singapore Sports Hub and National Art Gallery will add to the wide choice of leisure, entertainment and recreational options available in Singapore, further reinforcing Singapore’s appeal to business travellers,” says Lim.  

Photo Credit: Toh Ming Zong

This was first published in Issue 71/2013 of CMW. Any comments? Email

Conference & Meetings World is published for the international conference and meetings industry. It tackles the issues facing organisers of international events. The editorial is independent, fresh and news driven, with a global reach.

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