October 11, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio | Image: CEO of UFI Kai Hattendorf with Alvin Tan, Minister of State at the Singapore Ministry of Trade | Credit: Kai Hattendorf

It was a big week last week for the global business events peak bodies when they gathered in Singapore to discuss the rebuilding of the exhibition industry. Australians could not be at the meeting due to travel restrictions.

ASEAN leaders and representatives of the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS) and the Society of Independent Show Organisers were at the Fullerton Hotel for the face-to-face summit designed to discuss the roadmap to recovery.

Kai Hattendorf, CEO of UFI flew to Singapore from Europe to participate in the event. On social media he described the safety protocols followed from departure through to his participation in the event including rapid COVID testing at the airport.

He said the purpose of the summit was to advocate for the critical need for the re-start of business events in the APAC region as these are the marketplaces, the meeting places, that are a springboard for growth and innovation as well as a fast track for recovery.

At the event case studies were shared about running safe and successful events in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the USA.

The meeting which ran from 5 – 7 October addressed the reopening of essential international travel corridors into, out of, and across the region.

Singapore and regional business events stakeholders used the event as a pilot event, showing that with precautions, protocol, and planning, Singapore can restart and have a safe and successful international business event, UFI said.

An outcome of the event was to establish a new joint event, the Asia CEO Summit, to take place 4-6 October 2022 in Singapore, which will see exhibition industry leaders meet yearly to review the regional event environment and establish next steps to grow the industry.

“The reopening of our MICE and Events industry requires a global effort and commitment by public and private sector players,” said President of SACEOS, Aloysius Arlando.

“As we continue on our journey towards an Endemic COVID-19 world, it is now time for us to bring back the core purpose of business events – driving commerce.

“We are delighted that regional leaders and global industry partners have come together to chart a practical roadmap towards the reopening of business events.

“And the launch of the Asia CEO Summit in 2022 gives added momentum to the restart of inter and intra-regional business and MICE travel. This will be vital in rebuilding our communities and economies.”

President of Diversified Communications USA Mary Larkin said the meeting made it “abundantly clear” that their customers needed events.

“Businesses, especially SMEs, rely on events. The economy is bolstered by events. There are no other channels where businesses are able to accomplish so much, so quickly, and we have seen time and again in regions where events are restarting that business is recovering faster and innovation is pushing forward.”

International diplomacy and advocacy were a centrepiece of the event.

Hattendorf met with Alvin Tan, Minister of State at the Singapore Ministry of Trade to discuss reopening of the sector.

The three-day event of regional and world leaders was supported by the Singapore Tourism Board and SACEOS.