Singapore – Cannes of Asia?

Gilmore: Singapore ideal when considering air links, visa regulations and ease of getting from hotel to venue

Reed Exhibitions believes its inaugural ILTM Asia-Pacific show in Singapore this May could become “the Cannes of Asia”, referring to the main event, ILTM Cannes, launched 17 years ago.

In a restructure, ILTM Japan, usually held in March, will be incorporated into ILTM Asia-Pacific from this year, while the previous ILTM Asia will become ILTM China, still held in Shanghai but in October instead of June.

ILTM Asia-Pacific connects sellers to Asian buyers. Some 600 buyers are expected at the first show, with just a small percentage from China and international markets. ILTM Japan will be part of Asia-Pacific, with around 80 sellers.

Gilmore: Singapore ideal when considering air links, visa regulations and ease of getting from hotel to venue

ILTM China connects sellers to Chinese buyers. Some 220 buyers are expected at the first ILTM, with just a small percentage from Asia and international markets.

But why not the China show as the Cannes of Asia? According to Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2018, China’s ultra-wealthy population will more than double in the next five years.

Alison Gilmore, director, ILTM Portfolio, said Singapore has the makings to be the Cannes of Asia because it has better air links and visa regulations; it is a “contained” city much like Cannes, where the exhibition venue and hotels are close by; and it is the “perfect” hub for Asia-Pacific’s high net worth individuals, which are growing in numbers.

In an interview in Singapore, Gilmore said: “One of the issues we had over the last few years was Chinese visas. A lot of Australians, and media, weren’t getting their visas to Shanghai, and they were finding this out very late. With Singapore, it’s simple and easy with no visa hassles, and within a six-hour flight time (from key Asian cities).”

As a result, organisers said they noted a 60 per cent interest in interest from Australian buyers and other key source markets like Singapore (47 per cent), India (50 per cent) and Japan (32 per cent), as well as Hong Kong, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia.

And unlike Shanghai, which is “spread out”, thus scattering delegates everywhere, another Singapore advantage has to do with logistics. The Singapore venue, Marina Bay Sands, and partner hotels Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Conrad Centennial and InterContinental Singapore, are all close by, as in Cannes. Gilmore expects the show to have the “intimate” feel and style of ILTM Cannes, where more business talks would be conducted outside of scheduled appointments over coffee at hotel lobbies, cocktail parties and dinners hosted by hotels, and at Singapore’s hot tables, which are within vicinity of the event.

Like Cannes, Singapore – once dubbed boring – is increasingly associated with the rich and famous, hosting world-class events such as F1 Grand Prix and boasting fine-dining concepts and luxury hotels, more of which have just opened and are reopening in the next couple of years.

As a source market, Singapore’s ultra-wealthy population – individuals with US$50 million or more in net assets, of which there are only 129,730 globally – was up 18 per cent to 1,400 people in 2017 over 2016, according to the Knight Frank report. More tantalisingly for the luxury travel market, Asia has beaten Europe as having more ultra-rich people, 35,880 vs 35,180, after a 15 per cent rise in 2017. North America remains the continent with the most number of ultra-wealthy individuals (44,000).

Asia is expected to experience turbo-charged growth in ultra-wealthy population in the next five years. Apart from a doubling in China, Japan is tipped to see a 51 per cent rise, India 71 per cent, Indonesia 66 per cent and Malaysia 65 per cent.

Such golden prospects are causing the market to buzz with activity. Western companies want ‘in’, as seen in London-based Scott Dunn buying Singapore luxury travel agency, Country Holidays, in January. Established local outbound companies are launching luxury labels, such as Chan Brothers Singapore which officially launched Prestige in January. Even ILTM is not without competition. Serge Dive, CEO and founder of Beyond Luxury Media who launched and sold ILTM Cannes, and went on to create Pure Life Experiences luxury travel tradeshow in Morocco, will be inaugurating Further East in November in Seminyak, Bali.

Gilmore is unfazed, saying competition “makes us do our best” and ILTM has a proven track record. ILTM Asia 2017 claimed that 59 per cent of buyers placed orders at the event and 90 per cent planned to place orders in excess of US$10,000 as a direct result of the show. Over a third of all buyers expect to spend US$100,000+ with clients they met at the event.

TTG Asia Luxury is the exclusive trade media partner for ILTM Asia-Pacific 2018 and will be producing a special edition to be distributed at the show in addition to its normal circulation to luxury travel planners across Asia-Pacific

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