Asia continues to emerge at the top in international market growth figures across a myriad of fields – from visitor arrivals and hotel occupancy rates to tourism investment growth and business travel expenditure. The proliferation of low-cost carriers in Asia has made travel within the region even more popular and the region’s growing middle class has created higher disposable incomes for discretionary travel. With Asian travellers projected to account for at least 50 percent of global tourism expenditure by 2020, all eyes are on the region for future growth prospects.
Ranked 1st in Asia for travel and tourism competitiveness for the 3rd consecutive time1, Singapore has cemented its status as one of the top tourism and aviation hubs globally. The city is within a seven-hour flight radius of half the world’s population and Changi International Airport is the 7th busiest international airport in the world, serving 110 airlines and handling more than 51 million passenger movements in 20122. Home-grown national carrier Singapore Airlines and its regional subsidiaries SilkAir and Scoot operate passenger services to more than 63 cities in 35 countries. With plans underway to further develop the aviation territories and services of the city, Singapore is well-positioned to reap the benefits of its prime location as Asia continues to flourish3.
Singapore is a regional node of the international travel industry. Half of the top 10 largest global hotel groups have their regional headquarters in Singapore, including InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton Worldwide and Carlson Rezidor. Home-grown hospitality brands have also gained international accord, with Banyan Tree Holdings having collected more than 900 top global accolades and joining the award-laden ranks of the Unlisted Collection. Additionally, hospitality developers cum owners such as Global Premium Hotels Limited and Far East Orchard Limited continue to flourish in the region.
Singapore’s attractive business and entrepreneurship environment and facilities ensure that a steady ecosystem of travel technology companies seek out Singapore as a gateway to expand into Asia. This includes TripAdvisor, Hotel Reservation Service (HRS), Rakuten Travel, Wego, and Skyscanner.
Singapore is the regional platform for business matchmaking in the travel and tourism industry, evidenced by the growing prevalence of travel expos and tourism conferences. In 2013, Asia’s most influential travel trade festival TravelRave’s attracted a record high attendance of 10,800 international delegates in Singapore. As an anchor event of TravelRave and with the participation of more than 90 countries, ITB Asia has established itself as Asia’s most international travel trade show in a short span of 6 years.
The intensely competitive Asian travel industry has raised the stakes for innovative ideas that provide a truly distinctive travel experience. Reflecting this movement, events like Web in Travel (WIT), one of the longest running travel distribution conferences in the region, have branched out into new divisions. The innovation-centered WIT Developer and Designer Challenge has also spurred on the burgeoning start-up scene for the travel industry.
Recent years have also seen the industry moving towards sub-sectors in travel and tourism. With these niche market segments expected to see accelerated growth, MICE events will be well-placed to capitalise on this.