Antony Reeve-Crook direct from the 77th UFI Congress in Singapore
Here in humid Singapore, gathered in the cool shimmering towers of the Marina Bay Sands convention centre, a record-breaking 475 members from more than 50 countries have been discussing the region’s magnetism for the international exhibition industry.
The fact that the event has broken attendance records has much to do with this year’s location – the Marina Bay Sands resort (MBS) is one of the finest venues in the world – but more importantly the event has shown Singapore’s ability to draw a crowd, a destination rapidly establishing itself as one of the market leaders for international events.
Alongside MBS, Singapore has the Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Centre [pictured], the giant Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Resorts World Sentosa destination, a powerful quartet of reasons to hold your events in the colourful city-state.
But there’s more to it than that. From the extravagant SkyPark, an outdoor park sat atop and spanning the three towers of MBS, it’s easy to make comparisons with Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The view out towards Singapore’s Sentosa Island on one side is complemented by the soaring towers of the financial district on the other. Beneath us a Formula One circuit snakes its way through the city, and for the plus-ones and additional family members accompanying us on business trips, there is a night safari, the Universal Studios Singapore movie theme park, casinos and plenty else.
Much of this has only been made possible because of Singapore’s fight to reclaim land from the sea. The majority of the island state is no more than 15 metres above sea level, and almost the entire area south of MBS now sits on reclaimed land. Singapore has plenty more it wants to achieve before it runs out of room.
Long gone are the days when people could call Singapore sterile and uninvolving.