Author: Morgan Awyong
According to the International Monetary Fund, Asia’s overall growth is forecast at 5.6 percent this year, with China (+6.4 percent) and India (+7.8 percent) leading the charge. CWT listed China in its “2019 Meetings & Events Trends Report” as the world’s largest business travel market, and a clear example of the region’s rapid boom.
Asia’s dominance is also evident in Pacific World’s Most In-Demand Event Destinations 2019 ranking. In the report, released in March, destinations in Asia occupy seven of the 10 top spots. Following Spain, Thailand, China, Indonesia, and Singapore round out the top five most popular destinations for events worldwide. Peru, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, South Korea, and Indochina complete the top 10 list.
“We’ve identified the top destinations this year based on the number of requests we’ve received, and events booked for 2019 and beyond,” Pacific World Global Marketing Manager Patricia Silvio said.
“Recent news, like the results of the Global Destination Sustainability Index, which put Bangkok as the No. 2 destination in Asia, will enhance the image of that city and help appeal to a new generation of event planners who prioritise environmental and social sustainability when choosing destinations,” Silvio added.
Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA) President Sumate Sudasna, attributes the kingdom’s continual appeal to its authentic experiences and range of destinations that cater to both city meetings and beach-bound incentive programmes.
“Secondary destinations that offer immersive and genuine interface are quite well received,” Sudasna said. “Corporate meetings and incentives are our main prospects, and they are from short-, medium-, and long-haul market sources — in that order.
“The repeat visitor rate of above 60 percent,” he added, “is testament to the fact that Thailand is a destination favoured by both event planners and event participants.”
Infrastructure developments in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, spurred by China’s Belt and Road Initiative, are also creating growth opportunities in Indochina (including in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam), where fast-paced developments are drawing international attention.
In China, increased flight accessibility means the destination has maintained healthy visitor numbers, while Chinese innovation continues to be a draw.
“China has strong convention bureaus and clear destination development strategies, modern infrastructure, and convenient access as a central hub for travel in Asia, and the world,” said Pacific World Shanghai Destination Manager Violet Wang.
“There are 220 airports in China and this figure is likely to double in the next 10 years,” she said. “This speed is far quicker than any other country … and opens up second- and third-tier destinations to the international market.”
According to Wang, China’s burgeoning technology, and finance industries are luring business events, while efforts to remedy the country’s environmental concerns are also attracting attention.
“The Chinese government’s pledge to improve air quality and reduce carbon emission has definitely helped our industry,” she said. “The government is working to transform our major industries from labour-intensive manufacturing, which causes heavy pollution, to more high-tech and service-focused industries.”
Hong Kong, too, is reaping the benefits of China’s infrastructure boom, with organisations such as Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong and Invest Hong Kong leveraging the newly opened Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge to promote multi-city meetings.
In Singapore, meanwhile, a S$9 billion (US$6.65 billion) investment plan to expand the island’s two integrated resorts is underway. The iconic Marina Bay Sands will add a new entertainment arena and hotel tower, while Resorts World Sentosa will add two new destination hotels with up to 1,100 rooms, and expand Universal Studios Singapore to include two new attractions.