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Asia Pacific’s first post-Covid international travel tradeshow opens in Singapore

TravelRevive, which opened at Sands Expo & Convention Centre in Singapore 25 November, is the first international travel tradeshow to take place physically in Asia Pacific since Covid-19, Paul Colston reports from Singapore.

Close to 1,000 local and international attendees are expected on site over two days to exchange ideas, bridge knowledge gaps, and reimagine the future of travel.

Powered by ITB Asia and Singapore Tourism Board (STB), TravelRevive is a showcase pilot tradeshow with rigorous protocols in place for the end-to-end visitor journey. The trial format brings face-to-face back into the mix as part of a newly developed hybrid event prototype and is organised as part of a public-private collaboration under the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST)’s Singapore Together Alliance for Action (AfA) on Enabling Safe and Innovative Visitor Experiences.

Global exhibition industry association UFI’s MD and CEO Kai Hattendorf (pictured) participated in person on the Leaders’ Panel: A Test for MICE’s Business Model. He was joined by Aloysius Arlando, AIPC president and SACEOS president and by Mathias Posch, immediate past president of IAPCO and Informa Tech MD Carolyn Dawson.

The session, moderated by Dr Edward Koh, executive director, conventions, meetings and incentive travel at STB, also beamed in ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath from Amsterdam via Zoom.

Alongside TravelRevive, STB, International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), and the Singapore Association of Convention & exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS) are also co-organising the IAEE Asia Hybrid Forum and SMFX x MICE Connect Forum on 26 November 2020. These events are specially curated, with panel discussions, masterclasses and updates on the Industry Resilience Roadmap, a joint initiative between STB, ESG and SACEOS.

Attended by local stakeholders as well as ASEAN and global MICE associations, both events are platforms for ideas and knowledge exchange to reimagine the future of MICE events.

Besides live sessions, TravelRevive features on-demand components that are accessible to delegates joining via the ITB Community in Asia online platform too.

Enhanced safety measures  

A range of safety measures put in place by the organisers included: 

  • Safe management measures for every stage of an event attendee’s journey (pre- to post-event). International delegates were given PCR tests at Changi airport with results delivered within five hours direct to their hotels.
  • Crowd density control and cohorting of attendees.
  • 18sqm booths complemented with 9sqm meeting pods that are equipped with protective plexi-glass to facilitate safe one-to-one meetings between exhibitors and buyers.
  • The use of the TraceTogether app to facilitate contact tracing for international visitors.
  • The launch of an online diary mobile app to safely arrange one-to-one meetings between exhibitors and buyers.

STB is also showcasing its work with industry stakeholders to establish a framework to guide tourism businesses, including travel agents, in developing safe itineraries. Many delegates were trying out the itineraries after the main sessions.

The itineraries include virtual tours with hands-on activities that delegates can participate in from their hotel rooms, private museum site visits, and even a guided site visit to a Kelong (an offshore wooden platform used primarily for fish farming).

This correspondent also tested the working prototype, called the Safe Travel Concierge, a system worked out by Changi Airport Group (CAG), under the auspices of the AfA on Enabling Safe and Innovative Visitor Experiences. This is an online tool to help travellers manage their visits by customising a travel checklist of pre-entry requirements to fulfil before entering Singapore, from the SafeTravel Pass application to the swab tests conducted at the airport. The STC will also help guests remain in their cohorts at all times, including when attending activities as part of their safe itineraries after TravelRevive. 

The AfA on Enabling Safe and Innovative Visitor Experiences will study the findings and data from TravelRevive to refine the safe management measures and best practices for MICE events and leisure travel progressively.

Speaking at the opening of TravelRevive, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry (Singapore) said, “Amidst the disruptions inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Singapore government is committed to working with our industry partners to reinforce the resilience of the MICE sector and doing  more to catalyse the revival of our tourism industry in a safe manner. We will support the industry in reimagining the entire visitor experience to emerge stronger and solidify our position as a global and regional business hub.”

Ms Kwee Wei Lin, co-lead of the EST AfA on Enabling Safe and Innovative Visitor Experiences, Head of Hotels (Singapore), Pontiac Land Group, President, Singapore Hotel Association, added: “We are thrilled that TravelRevive has come to life after months of hard work and close collaboration between the public and private sectors. We hope it will lay a sustainable foundation for the future of business events, and pave the way for a safe and seamless end-to-end experience for visitors to Singapore.” 

Ms Katrina Leung, managing director, Messe Berlin (Singapore) – organiser of ITB Asia – commented: “TravelRevive is a major stepping stone for our industry’s recovery, while setting a bold new benchmark for hybrid events. Together with STB, we look forward to growing the MICE industry and fortifying Singapore’s position as a key hub for events and corporate travel.”

Mr Andrew Phua, executive director, Exhibitions & Conferences, Singapore Tourism Board, added: “We are proud to break new ground together with Messe Berlin by piloting Asia-Pacific’s first international travel tradeshow since the start of Covid-19. As the Global-Asia node for business, Singapore is reimagining the future of business events with rigorous protocols and creative solutions, while supporting our MICE industry as we pivot, adapt and transform.”

For more information about TravelRevive, please visit https://www.itb-community.com/travel-revive/. Interested participants may purchase a ticket online on: https://www.itb-community.com/travel-revive/visit/