Passport - (Page P28)

Destination Diary Asia By Melissa Burdick Harmon Graceful Shinto shrines crouch in the shadow of towering Tokyo high rises. Hong Kong’s “A Symphony of Lights” celebrates global commerce, while local shops sell ancient Chinese herbal remedies. Thailand’s Grand Palace and gilded temples vie with its chic beach resorts for visitors’ dollars. That rich mix of ancient tradition, blended with hard-driving 21st -century energy, makes the region a powerful draw for corporate meeting and incentives. Business boomed in Singapore in 2008, with the Singapore Tourism Board reporting that tourism had generated an estimated $14.8 billion in receipts, breaking all previous records. That’s a 5 percent increase over 2007, achieved despite the global economic downturn in the second half of 2008. That $14.8 billion breaks down to an estimated 10.1 million visitor arrivals, spending a total of 39.8 million days in this small Asian country, just below Malaysia. More than 6,000 business events, including Biomedical Asia and ITB Asia, helped to build the bottom line. In fact, ITB Asia’s international travel show alone drew 5,000 delegates from 50 countries. New developments are expected to keep this popular meetings destination—truly a mix of traditional and cutting-edge Asia—ahead of the pack. These include both planned new resorts and the construction of an International Cruise Terminal. Next year, Singapore will also host the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. The fact is, meeting groups love to visit Singapore, with its old-fashioned cricket games and fortunetellers and glistening modern infrastructure and its stew of nationalities and religions. Despite its small size, Singapore boasts a population of four million, including Malays, Chinese, Indians, and others. Even though this former British colony Suntec Singapore gained independence in 1965, there is still a touch of England here—in its cricket 28 games and high teas and its Raffles Hotel, where such well-known Brits as Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham unpacked their bags. Meetings of any size will find a home in the ultra-high-tech Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Its 130,000square-foot Convention Hall can seat 10,000 theater style and can be subdivided into four. Its Exhibition Hall spans 129,000 square feet of usable space, and its ballroom can accommodate 1,800 theater style or 1,300 for banquets. Add to that a total of 31 smaller meeting rooms, plus cutting-edge technology, and planners have what they need. The center’s location, in the heart of Asia’s Convention City, means that delegates have direct access to 5,200 hotel rooms, 1,000 shops, 300 restaurants, six museums, and a performing arts center. It is possible to use tunnels and covered walkways to move through this convenient convention complex, which is just 20 minutes from Changi International Airport. Funiculars, Ferries, and Fabulous Shopping The steep funicular ride to the top of Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak—a great spot for snapping photos of the skyscrapers below—is a “must do” on most meeting delegates’ lists. Another favorite: riding the classic green-and-white Star Ferry that plies the waters between Kowloon on the mainland and Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong shopping can range Successful Meetings/MeetingNews/Incentive / MARCH 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passport

Destination Diary Europe
Americas and the Caribbean
Charting Their Course
Show Me the Money