SINGAPORE: Singapore Expo could be managed by a different operator for the first time in its nearly 20-year history, if SingEx loses its tender bid to two new contenders.
A tender to operate the space was launched by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Dec 6 last year, and three companies including SingEx have submitted bids, according to government procurement portal GeBIZ.
The two new contenders have put in bids of S$60 million each, above incumbent SingEx's bid of S$50 million.
SingEx, which is owned by Singapore investment arm, Temasek, has managed the space in the east of Singapore since it was opened in 1999.
According to GeBIZ, the two other bidders are Futuristic Store Fixtures, a store fixture specialist that serves global retail clients such as Victoria’s Secret and L’Occitane and is part of OSIM founder Ron Sim's V3 Group, as well as Unusual Development, a subsidiary of media entertainment and content company mm2 Asia.
Channel NewsAsia understands that Futuristic Store Fixtures will be teaming up with AEG, a leading sports and entertainment presenter that owns, operates and provides services to some of the most successful facilities in the world.
Channel NewsAsia also understands that the bidders have signed a non-disclosure agreement and are not able to divulge details of the tender or their plans.
Aside from price, government tenders also take into consideration criteria such as the bidder's track record and their vision, direction and strategy of how they intend to run the project.
The bids come amid a slowdown of Business Travel and Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibition (BTMICE) visitor arrivals to Singapore.
While overall visitor arrivals to Singapore reached a new record of 17.4 million in 2017, the BTMICE segment saw 1.75 million visitors in the first three quarters of 2017 - a dip of 5 per cent compared to the same period in 2016.
In addition, while the 100,000sqm Singapore Expo is one of the bigger spaces in Singapore for such events, it only holds about 600 events a year.
In comparison, Suntec Singapore holds 1,500 events a year, while Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention holds more than 3,000 events a year.
Group managing director of Conference and Exhibition Management Services Edward Liu said that based on the current utilisation rate at Singapore Expo, Singapore must continue to hold trade shows and find ways to differentiate its products from others to stay ahead of rising competition in the region.
Despite regional competition heating up, experts say the dip in business travellers to Singapore is temporary due to the global economic slowdown in 2015 and 2016.
UOB Economist Francis Tan said that 2017 was "a good growth year”, and that there was “an uptake in various segments of our economy”. “(I am) a little bit more optimistic on 2018's BTMICE arrivals into Singapore," he said.
While STB has not said when results of the bid will be announced, the winning operator will take over from Jan 1, 2019.