At this month’s Cruise Shipping Miami 2012 event, we spoke with a collection of representatives from Southeast Asia, from both regional DMOs and cruise suppliers. There’s an incredible amount of new infrastructure growth for both on-land meetings and shipboard programs in Singapore and the surrounding region, aimed at groups of all sizes at a variety of budget levels.
The representatives include:
- Kah-Peng Aw, chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board
- Serene Tan, regional director for the Americas, Singapore Tourism Board
- Rizki Handayani, deputy director of multilateral cooperation, Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia
- Melvin Vu, CEO of SATS-Creuers Cruise Services
- Christina Siaw, CEO of Singapore Cruise Centre
The new cruise terminal at Marina South is expected to open mid-2012, doubling Singapore’s berth capacity. It will feature advanced technology capable of providing a 30-minute passenger turnaround and the first sea-to-air baggage transfer service in the region.
Located at Singapore’s southernmost tip, it is a 20-minute drive from the Singapore Changi Airport. Only a 5-minute drive away, groups can take in the beauty of the new Gardens by the Bay and the spectacular group hotel, Marina Bay Sands.
Also on the cruise front, Singapore’s existing Cruise Centre will complete an $11 million renovation in April. The revamp will include optimization of operational space, a reworking of the commercial and retail space, an upgrade of the terminal hardware and software, and various gardens and atriums planted throughout.
Prevue: What makes Southeast Asia a unique destination for pre/post cruise incentives?
Kah-Peng Aw: I think the variety of destinations makes it extremely interesting because you’ve got city destinations, you’ve got resort destinations, and you’ve got cultural destinations. So depending on the kind of incentive group, the choices are all there and are all within a very accessible distance. For example, a Singapore to Jakarta flight is 45 minutes and to Bangkok is about an hour. So you’re talking about an extremely accessible region if you look at intraregional travel. That supports the diversity of options that are there.
We have many destinations that are already what I call ‘made for business,’ and Singapore is one of them. People go for business and you have to build around that.
Rizki Handayani: Singapore grew in the past decade from having one percent of all the total flights to having 28 percent so airfare has dropped. You can go to any destination in Southeast Asia for less than what it would have cost you five years ago. This makes Singapore more than just a cruise capital; it’s also an air hub.
Melvin Vu: I think that the fact that it’s an open regime for visas is also important.
Kah-Peng Aw: Yes, all of Southeast Asia is now visa-free under the ASEAN umbrella, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
What are the top three reasons planners should look into Singapore for their meetings?
Kah-Peng Aw: Business, business, business. No, in the end I think groups want to be introduced to a region that is exciting and that is growing both for business as well as nonbusiness reasons. I think that’s what makes us exciting.
Serene Tan: I think we see a lot of business traffic and a lot of business events have been taking place in Singapore both for conferences and meetings or incentives. What I’ve found is that we have a lot of repeat visitors as well, meaning they come the first time for business and then the second time they come with their family, friends or spouse. I think the second part speaks to the attractiveness of the destination.