With today’s Indian travellers exploring novel and non-traditional avenues in their quest for greater value from their travel experiences, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) brought together some of the leading minds in the tourism and lifestyle industries, to share their perspectives on the rapidly-changing market at its ‘Cruise & MICE Conclaves’ thought-leadership conferences in Mumbai on 10th March.
Hearing cutting-edge insights through a panel discussion, keynote address and product sharing sessions, more than 250 attendees from across India’s business world learnt more about the power of technology in revolutionizing MICE travel, harnessing data to effectively understand and engage young Indian consumers, and reimagine Cruise travel to tap into new consumer segments.
The day-long forums featured a storied line-up of industry luminaries leading the change across the tourism and lifestyle industries; including:
- Sukumar Verma, Managing Director, Informa Markets Singapore;
- Sneha Choksi, Senior Business Development Associate, Tirun Travel Marketing;
- Dikshaa Batra, Assistant Vice President, Resorts World Cruises;
- Sridhar Keppurengan, Cross Border Payments, India & South Asia, Visa; and
- Alexander Valladares, Chief Marketing Officer, Impresario Handmade Restaurants
The sessions focused on how changing consumer preferences have prompted the industry to respond and reimagine tourism experiences to stay ahead of the curve. Experts in the cruise industry spotlighted the importance of creating immersive experiences that align with the values and preferences of young travelers, deploying innovation and technology in the process. With 67% of Indians under the age of 35 years and the average age of Indian cruise travellers being 37 years, which is among the youngest in the world, there is much potential to tap into and grow cruising interest among the young Indian adults.
With millennials – and Gen Z soon in the future – travelling frequently for business, Sukumar shared his insight that experiential travel is slowly becoming the norm in MICE movements. With more and more business travellers combining leisure elements as part of their trips, these bleisure travellers seek out diverse experiences in the destinations, including culinary, lifestyle and cultural. Importantly, both the sessions on cruise and MICE independently addressed the growing need for sustainability in the sector – including a clear signal that consumers are revisiting conscious, sustainability-focused destinations.
Over the last few decades, Singapore has established itself as a global business and leisure hub. The country hosted several MICE events in 2022, including the Singapore Airshow in February and the Fintech Festival in November, which attracted a record turnout of more than 62,000 attendees from over 115 countries since its inaugural edition in 2016. On the Meetings and Incentive (M&I) travel front, we welcomed the SBI and Herbalife incentive groups, which were the largest post-pandemic groups from India.
India was the top source market for cruise tourism in Singapore in 2019, with over 160,00 Indian travellers who cruised from Singapore; post pandemic in 2022, cruise bookings were on a good recovery track, with more than 49,000 of the 686,000 Indian travellers arriving into Singapore via sea. With a strong growth trajectory in cruise travel and the evolving expectations of discerning, affluent and sophisticated Indian travellers, destinations are increasingly re-examining their offerings could be reshaped to meet the consumer needs.
Last week at ITB Berlin, the STB launched its brand-new ‘SingapoRewards’ scheme, which offers complimentary, hidden-gem experiences to every international visitors hungry to experience Singapore in a more immersive way. This new tourism marketplace is a key driver for the Cruise & MICE Conclave, drawing on industry leaders to share their critical insights into engaging the new Indian traveller.
Speaking about the STB’s efforts to promote reimagined cruise and MICE travel in the Indian market, Mr. G.B Srithar, Regional Director for India, Middle East, South Asia & Africa, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said, “Singapore’s proximity, within a 3.5 to 5.5 hour flying radius, and the extensive network of flights directly connecting 16 gateways across India to the destination, allow Indian travellers the chance to easily and repeatedly experience Singapore’s boundary-pushing destination experiences.
Travellers could choose ‘Fly-Cruise-Stay’ holidays to soak in the best of experiences both on land and onboard a cruise ship, as well as M&I trips featuring uniquely immersive, unconventional experiences. With our reimagined MICE and Cruise experiences, and bolstered by our world-class capabilities, facilities, and infrastructure, we are confident that Singapore will continue to meet the unique needs of tomorrow’s Indian travellers.”
In a move to reinforce its commitment to sustainability, Singapore has positioned itself as a green destination, perfectly blending biophilic elements with its urban cityscape so travellers can soak in the beauty of nature while in the heart of the city. With the modern-day travellers growing ever more tech-savvy and companies aggressively pushing their green credentials, this suite of reimagined experiences, its technology push and Singapore’s positioning as a destination for sustainable travel is further burnishing the country’s appeal to MICE and Cruise travellers.