Almost half of the workforce at the Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Center (SICEC) will be laid off.
Suntec Singapore announced the news yesterday (August 28) together with BATU (Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union).
The congress center currently employs 178 people. A total of 85 jobs will be lost after the cut, including 60 locals and 25 non-locals.
Suntec works with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and BATU to provide financial and professional support to those affected. The cancellation date will be sent from next Tuesday.
General ban on events in S’pore
The Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) industry in Singapore has been decimated by Covid-19.
In February, the third UK person diagnosed with Covid-19 was said to have contracted the disease from Singapore after attending a business conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Since then, all major commercial events have been quickly postponed or canceled, and the general ban became mandatory in March.
While the government reopened the economy in Phase 2, large-scale gatherings are limited to large live events such as marriages and funerals and are limited to 50 people.
The ban on mass gatherings means that sources of income for events have dried up. In the MICE industry, cost-cutting measures were taken across the board.
Suntec Venue / Photo credits: Suntec
In a survey by the Professional Convention Management Association in the Asia Pacific region, more than half of respondents said the decline in sales would exceed 75 percent for the remainder of 2020.
Event companies in Singapore have reported that revenue has dropped nearly zero percent as social distancing and travel restrictions thwarted plans.
The impact of the events industry can damage an entire ecosystem, including "venues, travel, entertainment, media, creative production and design, catering, merchandising".
Events lower costs and go digital
Events are also very important to other sectors and promote intercultural tourism, educational and professional exchanges and business opportunities – but everything that has died since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Currently, the MICE industry is in damage control mode.
Suntec and BATU have been working together since February to implement cost control measures.
These include hiring freezes, shorter working weeks and temporary wage cuts for unpaid leave, with management taking on up to 40 percent of the wage cuts.
Other event companies have adapted to the new normal by changing their business model and turning to technology.
As Clarke Quay falls silent, clubs have turned their rooms into F & B's for revenue.
Empty and Dark Clarke Quay / Photo Credit: Southeast Asia Globe
For one thing, about two months ago Zouk turned his Capital Lounge on Clarke Quay into a pop-up restaurant called Capital Kitchen, while Ce La Vi’s SkyBar in Marina Bay Sands was converted into a dining concept called Bao.
The Timbre Group has also started to stream their gigs live. Other major music venues are turning to online concerts to replace physical raves.
PouchNATION, originally a provider of event solutions, is turning to hybrid digital events and bringing temperature-measuring wristbands onto the market.
For the organizer of the Startup Weekend Singapore (SWSG) hackathon event, they had to put together a digital hackathon in just 16 days, which achieved a record turnout in April.
Fall of a giant mouse?
Support for the MICE industry is extensive and SICEC's inability to retain workers is symptomatic of a failing sector.
The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) has provided Tier 1 support to workers in the MICE industry, where the government will subsidize up to 75 percent of the first S $ 4,600 of workers' wages.
In connection with the new property tax relief, MICE properties such as SICEC can receive up to 100 percent of the property tax relief.
However, without significant income, there is little relief.
Suntec Mall / Photo credit: SQFeed
SICEC was built as the leading convention and exhibition center in the Asia-Pacific region and has lived up to its name.
The convention center won awards year after year and hosted everything from the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, Anime Festival Asia to the COMEX and IT Show 2017 events.
It is one of the largest and most modern convention facilities in the Asia-Pacific region and extends over 42,000 square meters. Between 2012 and 2014, the convention center even underwent a facelift worth S $ 410 million.
Unfortunately, the Suntec Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) recorded a decline in gross sales of 3.1 percent compared to the previous year, which is mainly due to lower event engagements in SICEC.
If a leading convention center is shedding more than half its workforce, it may mean that the extent to which the MICE industry can "spin" is limited.
Human touch can be digitized, but not replaced. This could mean the MICE industry will have to venture into shark-infested waters pending the search for a vaccine against the virus.
Selected image source: Goody Feed
Also Read: The Show Must Go On: How These S & # 39; Pore Event Companies Are Using Technology To Survive Covid-19