JLS pilots ‘free-to-roam’ event in Singapore

Danica Tormohlen, editor-at-large for SISO, reports on how the Joint Leadership Summit 2021 in Singapore marked the reopening of the ASEAN market and also on the launch of the Asia CEO Summit.

Four major global exhibition industry associations — including SISO, in partnership with Paris-based UFI, the global association of the exhibition industry; UK-based Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and the Singapore Association for Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS) — met face-to-face at the Joint Leadership Summit (JLS) 5-7 October at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore. The meeting of global trade show and event industry leaders was truly historic. 

“The JLS was a strategic pilot event supported by the Singapore government, where for the first time we were testing out a ‘free-to-roam’ itinerary for international participants subject to the necessary protocols,” said then SACEOS president Aloysius Arlando (He has since left the post). 

Protocols included stringent testing (antigen, PCR and serology) and tracing requirements (via app check-ins) for fully vaccinated international travellers, but key industry leaders submitted to the restrictions to have a seat at the table with government officials to help move the needle — politically and economically — to help reshape the reopening of business travel and trade shows.

Supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), JLS convened regional government representatives, major global organisers and trade association leaders to discuss action plans for the safe reopening of the business events industry in the ASEAN region. SISO member companies in attendance included Emerald, Clarion, Informa, Diversified, Tarsus Group and IMEX Group.

The independent and association leaders discussed the critical need to reopen inter- and intra-regional travel routes while ensuring the health and safety of business travellers as core policy measures. The executives called on the authorities to put into place clear policy initiatives and common operating protocols across the region to be calibrated for a Covid-endemic environment. 

“As we continue on our journey towards an endemic Covid-19 world, it is now time for us to bring back the core purpose of business events — driving commerce,” said Arlando. 

JLS was more than three years in the making due to the pandemic and Covid-related restrictions. “The global leaders in attendance at the Joint Association Leadership Summit in Singapore, along with others who were not able to join, have put a substantial effort into making this happen – this is a significant moment,” said Doug Emslie, CEO, Tarsus Group.

During JLS, leaders from SISO, UFI, AEO and SACEOS signed a three-year agreement to launch the Asia CEO Summit. The inaugural event will take place 4-6 October 2022, at the Fullerton Hotel, Singapore.

“We have always recognised 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 ASEAN market,” said Hervé Sedky, SISO chair, president and CEO of Emerald. 

Since JLS, the reopening of Singapore continues to slowly unfold. As of 5 November, visitors could travel quarantine-free from the US, Canada, The Netherlands, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, Britain, Germany, Brunei, South Korea, Australia and Switzerland. Up to 1,000 participants per session are allowed for MICE events if all attendees are fully vaccinated, but participants must be split into zones of 50 people each, with no intermingling allowed.

SISO is optimistic that government restrictions will be lifted before the 2022 Asia CEO Summit. Stay tuned for details.