Leaders Meet in Singapore to Call for Reopening of Business Events in Southeast Asia

October 15, 2021

Regional government representatives from Southeast Asia, trade association leaders and major global exhibition organizers joined together Oct. 5-7 at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore for the Joint Leadership Summit (JLS), aimed at paving the way for the return of in-person exhibitions in the region.

Supported by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and co-organized by Singapore Association for Convention & Exhibition Organizers & Suppliers (SACEOS), Association of Event Organizers (AEO), Society for Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, the JLS was designed to highlight the core purpose and value of the exhibitions industry as a vital economic driver and solidify an action plan for its safe reopening throughout Southeast Asia.

Leaders discussed the critical need to reopen inter- and intra-regional travel routes while ensuring the health and safety of travelers as core policy measures. They called on authorities to put into place clear policy initiatives and common operating protocols to be calibrated for a Covid-endemic environment. 

The event also saw the launch of the Asia CEO Summit, an annual dialogue for the exhibition industry to review the regional business environment and chart the next course of action and collaboration for the betterment of the industry. The inaugural summit will take place in Singapore in October 2022.

Hervé Sedky, SISO chair and president & CEO of Emerald, underscored the summit and the commitment to hold an annual CEO gathering in Asia as a pivotal moment.

"We have always recognized the importance of the Asia event market and how we need a forum to bring together global leaders in the industry to share and exchange ideas about opportunities in the [Southeast Asian] market,” Sedky said. “AEO, SISO, and UFI all run annual CEO summits, and these are key meeting places for us as an industry and a fixture in all of our calendars, but we were missing a critical gathering in Asia."

Carina Bauer, AEO Chair and CEO of IMEX Group, said the discussions held and decisions made during the summit were a testament to the power of face-to-face business events.

“Sharing experiences of how other regions have restarted their event sectors in a safe and controlled manner has been hugely valuable, and we hope the roadmap we have proposed during the summit provides the framework to support the safe reopening and restarting of the APAC events sector, which is critical to economic recovery,” she said. “We very much look forward to returning to Singapore for the inaugural Asia CEO Summit in October 2022 to further this dialogue and enhance collaboration across both the region and our respective associations.”

Mary Larkin, UFI Immediate past president and president of Diversified Communications USA, also praised the summit as a major accomplishment on the road to recovery and revitalizing the international marketplaces that come together in Asia.

“With our experience in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, we were able to demonstrate the safety protocols and reopening successes we have had in many regions and to share that it can be adapted and implemented throughout [Southeast Asia],” she said.

Larkin added, “Most critically, what was abundantly clear from this week’s dialogue is that our customers need events. Businesses, especially [small to medium size] 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.”

Photo: Mary Larkin, UFI immediate past president and president of Diversified Communications USA 

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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: