02 January 18 The Straits Times by NG JUN SEN
A change of management for the Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre may be on the cards by the end of the year, with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) calling for proposals for the management and operation of Singapore's largest exhibition venue.
A public tender was launched on Dec 6. The 20-year contract for the facility has been held by Singex Venues since 1999 but will expire at the end of this year.
The meetings, incentives, conferences and events (Mice) sector here has been seeing an uptick in recent years.
Singapore Expo is owned by the Government and has 108,000 sq m of indoor exhibition space after a 2012 expansion added a new convention wing, Max Atria, to the facility.
Mr Chew Tiong Heng, STB's executive director of infrastructure planning and management, confirmed to The Straits Times that the tender, which closes next month, is intended to appoint an operator for the venue, which hosts around 600 events and an average of six million visitors each year.
The Mice industry in Singapore has been on the rise, with global organisers picking the Republic as a destination for key events such as the Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific this year and the Rotary International Convention in 2024.
STB supported 410 business events in 2016, compared with 350 in 2015 and 270 in 2014. These events generated $611 million, $478 million and $459 million in tourism receipts respectively.
While other venues are more centrally located compared with the Expo, the Changi-located facility caters to a different audience of exhibitors as its 10 exhibition halls are designed with a ceiling height of up to 16m and have a high floor-load capacity for events that require them.
"(Singex) has played an active role in reinforcing Singapore's position as a leading Mice destination for world-class events, with several awards and accolades under its belt," Mr Chew said, adding that the Expo plays a critical role in the industry.
All interested Mice venue management companies, including Singex, are welcome to participate in the tender, he said.
Other venues here include the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, and the Resorts World Convention Centre. While these other venues are more centrally located compared with the Expo, the Changi-located facility caters to a different audience of exhibitors as its 10 exhibition halls are designed with a ceiling height of up to 16m and have a high floor-load capacity for events that require them.
In response to queries, Singex said it is closely reviewing the tender specifications and will "consider a submission accordingly". It declined to disclose any details on its proposal.
Its spokesman said: "Singex has a proven track record of success in managing this centre... We are confident we can continue to deliver our brand promise to our customers who have supported us since the beginning."
Suntec Singapore declined to disclose its plans, but said last year was an outstanding one and expects to achieve an even stronger performance in the new year.
Meanwhile, Marina Bay Sands will not be taking part in this tender, its spokesman confirmed, adding that its convention centre sees "a strong performance" with 3,000 events hosted on average each year, including more than 590 Mice activities held in Singapore for the first time.