Singapore again ranked leading convention destination in Asia; Beijing takes greater prominence

9 February, 2022

The coronavirus pandemic may have had a significant impact on travel across Asia Pacific - especially the major international gateways across the region - but Singapore has still retained its position as the leading convention destination. In 2021, it ranked as the leading market in the region in terms of the number of international association meetings and in overall competitiveness, according to the fourth annual competitive index of international convention destinations from global convention industry consulting firm, GainingEdge.

The International Convention Destination Competitive Index Annual Report for 2021 covers the top 101 destinations with the largest number of international association meetings (according to the International Congress and Convention Association, the global meetings industry network) held in the last recorded three-year series (2017-2019).

The research provides an assessment of how convention cities compare in terms of the strength of their destination products. The index takes into consideration the key factors that influence the choice of the next host destination made by meeting planners and conference organisers.

These include meeting infrastructure (meetings venue, hotel offer and facility package, international accessibility and logistics), distinctive factors (local scientific community, destination appeal and costs), as well as macro indicators (market size, economic strength, business environment and social conditions).

Covid pandemic pushes down competitive scores… but, world order remains relatively unchanged

This year, the total competitive scores for all 101 cities - the same destinations used in previous annual report to support comparisons during what has been a particularly challenging period - have unsurprisingly declined due to the impact of COVID-19.

The report notes that the relative positions among most of the ranking has not changed dramatically with many destinations maintaining the same or similar ranking to the previous edition.

Reduced air connectivity a notable factor in impact on larger meeting venues

The destinations which experienced a relatively greater decline in the ranking are cities are identified as those which have previously scored well because of their air accessibility and large meeting venues, as well as leisure cities with strong destination appeal. The research also identifies a trend that smaller destinations with more flexible infrastructure, and those with a strong association community, have been less affected.

Benchmarking by 'fair share' analysis of a destination's business level

The report continues to utilise two benchmarking approaches, 'fair share' analysis of a destination's business levels and 'ratio analysis' meant to help destinations focus in on their most important competitive issues based on the cities with which they are most frequently competing.

"If a destination is below its fair share, it has a real opportunity to figure out why, to fix the problem and to generate more business for a faster recovery. If it is above fair share, it needs to form strategies to maintain competitive advantage, because it has a down-side risk. If they lose business to other up and coming cities then their recovery slows," explains Jon Sivertson, CEO of GainingEdge.

Singapore leads in Asia, Beijing rises the ranking

Singapore retained its position as the leading convention destination in Asia in 2021, ranked as the leading market in the region in terms of the number of international association meetings and in overall competitiveness. However, it slipped from its second position on a global level to third as the faster pandemic recovery in North America versus Asia helping New York to replace it. Paris remained the ranking leader.

Beijing moved up to second position in Asia and fourth globally, surpassing Tokyo which remained fifth globally, but fell to third in Asia. Bangkok also moved up the global ranking from eighth in 2020 to sixth in 2021. Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur witnessed significant slides due to Covid restrictions falling from sixth to twelfth globally and ninth to sixteenth globally, respectively. Seoul remained in the global top 20, while Macau and Bali were just outside after improving on their 2020 ranking.

Shanghai experienced the strongest growth in the region, jumping from twentieth to thirteenth position globally and from eighth to sixth in Asia. The report acknowledges that Chinese cities have performed relatively strongly in 2021 supported by their large national market and the fast recovery of domestic air travel.

Sydney and Melbourne among four Oceania destinations in ranking

Australia and the Oceania region are represented by four destinations in the ranking with Melbourne and Sydney positioned 27th and 31st globally, while Brisbane and Auckland are in the second half of the list in 59th and 83rd position, respectively.

Beijing identified as 'city to watch' for meetings and conventions

This year the report selected six cities that best show what can be achieved by different combinations of product and a focus on the international meetings market. These comprise Beijing, Istanbul, Moscow, Budapest, Florence and Ghent.

Among all the destinations in the ranking Beijing experienced the smallest drop, an almost negligible 2.75 index point fall versus the previous year's edition. The report also identifies Beijing as being among the top five destinations across the world for available intellectual capital. "Fast recovery, growing competitiveness and available intellectual capital indicate great potential for Beijing to improve its results in future years," says GainingEdge.