From Singapore to Sydney, these are the top cities in Asia-Pacific for association meetings based on ICCA’s 2016 global rankings* * Released in 2017
(1ST) SINGAPORE 151 ICCA-qualified association meetings
Singapore is home to three main convention centres: Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre near Marina Bay; Sands Expo and Convention Centre, which has Singapore’s largest meeting and convention space; and Singapore Expo in the east, which can provide up to 100,000m2 of column-free space.
Hotels can be found around these venues, providing meeting delegates with convenient accommodation options. Sands Expo, for instance, is supported by Marina Bay Sands hotel which is connected to the venue by an underground mall. Pan Pacific Singapore and Conrad Centennial Singapore are some of the hotels located close to Suntec Singapore, while Capri by Fraser Changi City sits just opposite Singapore Expo.
The convention centres are surrounded by diverse dining options as well. Members can hold welcome or farewell dinners at one of Marina Bay Sands’ award-winning or Michelin-star restaurants; Suntec Singapore is connected to Suntec City, an expansive mall with mid-scale dining options; and behind Singapore Expo lies Changi City Point, where delegates can enjoy more local flavours.
Association events are overseen by the Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau, which sits under the Singapore Tourism Board.
Top three economic pillars Electronics, pharmaceuticals and finance technology
Global access Changi International Airport is Singapore’s sole air gateway, which served more than 9.1 million international arrivals from January to August 2017. By land, Singapore’s two checkpoints – located at Tuas and Woodlands – received almost 1.46 million international arrivals from January to August 2017. – Pamela Chow
(2ND) SEOUL 137 ICCA-qualified association meetings
The vibrant capital of South Korea is one of the largest cities in the world, home to at least 10 million citizens. The city’s infrastructure is modern and boasts a standard of living one would expect of any global city. It has a reliable and accessible public train and bus network, major international credit cards are accepted by merchants across the city centre, and English is a language spoken by most service providers.
Seoul offers five convention centres, from the premium 63 Convention Centre where the 2,000-seat Grand Ballroom is the largest venue to the popular Coex Convention & Exhibition Center which hosts a yearly average of 200 exhibitions and over 2,000 separate meetings and events.
Unique venues are plentiful in Seoul, some modern and others traditional – a destination strength the Seoul Convention Bureau and Seoul Tourism Organization sing about when promoting Seoul to overseas meeting planners. On their website, miceseoul.com, 48 unique venues that satisfy strict criteria considered by meeting planners are currently listed.
Rounding up Seoul’s extensive list of event venues are convention hotels – properties with world-class meeting facilities. One of the newest openings is Seoul Dragon City, a massive complex of four AccorHotels brands – Grand Mercure, Novotel Suites, Novotel and Ibis Styles. It boasts 1,700 keys, an impressive collection of meetings and conventions spaces, and a cluster of five themed entertainment lounges that can also be hired for private events.
On the accommodation front, Seoul is home to numerous international and trusted local hotel brands. One of the most prominent openings in 2017 is Signiel Seoul. The 235-room luxury property by local power chain, Lotte Hotels & Resorts, straddles the 76th to 101st floors of the Lotte World Tower – said to be the sixth tallest high-rise in the world.
Top three economic pillars Electronics, telecommunications, finance
Global access Seoul prides itself as one of the world’s best-connected cities, being served by two international airports – Gimpo International Airport, located about 30 minutes from Seoul city centre, and Incheon International Airport, about an hour away from Seoul. The latter, opened in 2001, manages more than 450 inbound and outbound international and domestic flights daily. – Karen Yue
(3RD) BANGKOK 121 ICCA-qualified association meetings
A popular lesiure destination long before it was recognised on the world map for serious association meetings, the capital city of Thailand is able to promise the best of both worlds – professional connections with industry peers across Asia as well as fun ways to experience Thai culture and heritage.
Bangkok offers a host of world-class venues and supporting accommodation – 65 convention centres, 14 exhibition centres, 34 unique venues and 422 hotels with more than 94,000 keys.
Association meeting planners can choose from massive complexes like IMPACT Arena which has more than 150,000m2 of indoor space, Queen Sirikit National Convention Center which has a floor space of 65,000m2, and Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre which has excess of 50,000m2, or convention hotels that offer both venue and accommodation under one roof such as Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld and Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park.
An element of fun could easily be injected into a meeting programme by utilising one of the many unique venues in and around Bangkok city centre, such as a dinner river cruise down the Chao Phraya River, or a Thai cooking class or introduction to organic farming at Sampran Riverside, an eco-cultural destination on the fringe of Bangkok.
Associations keen on Bangkok should contact the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, which has a dedicated division to support assciation meetings.
Top three economic pillars Retail, manufacturing and real estate
Global access Bangkok has two international airports – Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang International Airport. According to data from Airports of Thailand, Inc., the former received 46 million passengers, up 5.6 per cent, in 2016, while the latter had 11.8 million, up 29.55 per cent. – Karen Yue
(4TH) BEIJING 113 ICCA-qualified association meetings
Beijing, the political, cultural and educational centre of China, is the second largest Chinese city after Shanghai and home to the headquarters of most of China’s largest state-owned enterprises.
China’s sprawling capital has more than 555 star-rated hotels, comprising some 65 five-star, 130 four-star and 203 three-star properties and inventory continues to increase.
Since its opening in 1985, the gigantic China World Trade Center (CWTC) complex is a highly-used venue. Within walking distance of the China World Exhibition Hall are the luxurious 716-room China World Hotel, the 570-room Traders Hotel Beijing and and the 278-room China World Summit Wing. The complex also includes the China World Apartments & Mall.
Other popular meeting venues include the China National Convention Center (CNCC), constructed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and adjacent to the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube – the national stadium and national aquatic centre respectively. Across a walkway is the 420-room CNCC Grand Hotel and close to two dozen mid-scale to high-end hotels are within a one-kilometre radius of the centre.
Opened in 1990, the Beijing International Convention Center (BICC) is right beside the Bird’s Nest and linked to the 555-room Beijing Continental Grand Hotel.
Top three economic pillars Finance, electronics/IT, pharmaceuticals-related research
Global access Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest in the world by passenger numbers. International traffic is channelled through Terminal 2 and 3. In 2016 they served 18,624,533 foreign passengers and, 3,951,359 regional travellers from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan who arrived on 75 international airlines. – Caroline Boey
(5TH) Hong Kong 99 ICCA-qualified association meetings
Hong Kong’s sophisticated and reliable infrastructure, together with the extensive array of support services and incentives for organisers provided by Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong (MEHK), under the arm of Hong Kong Tourism Board, makes the city an ideal destination for association meetings.
Hong Kong has an inventory of more than 270 hotels with 78,000 rooms, ranging from high-end to high-quality budget.
In Wan Chai, where the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is located, there are 47 hotels offering 10,555 rooms – promising covenient accommodation for event delegates with varying budgets.
As well, many of Hong Kong’s major hotels are built with meeting facilities. These are perfect options for smaller-sized association meetings that prefer having all activities under one roof.
Elsewhere, there are versatile offsite venues, from cosy wine cellars to art galleries, perfect for social functions during a meeting programme.
Top three economic pillars Financial services, tourism and trade
Global access Over 100 airlines operate flights to Hong Kong International Airport from 220 destinations, including over 50 cities on the Chinese mainland. In 2016, passenger throughput hit 70.5 million and the Airports Council International’s preliminary ranking placed Hong Kong International Airport as the world’s eighth busiest airport. – Prudence Lui
(6TH) TOKYO 95 ICCA-qualified association meetings
Tokyo International Forum (TIF) is the largest convention centre in the city, comprising eight halls including the country’s largest with 5,012 seats, as well as 34 meeting rooms and galleries.
There are 14 hotels – three five-star, five four-star, and six three-star properties – located within a 20-minute walking radius of TIF. This translates to a total number of 4,280 rooms, where the five-star Imperial Hotel is the largest with 931 rooms.
Unique venues for a memorable welcome or farewell dinner include Happo-en, Meji Kinenkan, and the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan). Happo-en offers traditionally-styled buildings set within a 400-year-old Japanese Garden, while Meiji Kinenkan is an evergreen forest of 120,000 trees with 365 different species in the outer gardens of the Meiji Shrine.
The Tokyo Conventions & Visitors Bureau boasts a dedicated business events team, and bills itself as a one-stop shop for all international clients.
Top three economic pillars Medical science, finance, and technology (IT, engineering and computer science)
Global access Tokyo has two international airports – Narita and Haneda, with the latter located only 15km from central Tokyo. In 2016, Narita and Haneda handled approximately 6.8 million and 3.3 million respectively. Narita averages about 230 flights per day, while Haneda averages about 109 per day. – Rachel AJ Lee
(7TH) TAIPEI 83 ICCA-qualified association meetings
There are seven convention centres in Taipei, three of which are specialised exhibition centres.
Taipei International Convention Centre holds the country’s largest plenary hall, being able to seat up to 3,100 people.
The Zhongzheng district is arguably the city’s business events hub, as it features a cluster of convention centres, affordable accommodation with meetings packages as well as unorthodox event spaces.
Chang Yung-fa Foundation International Convention Centre, GIS MOTC Convention Centre and NTUH International Convention Centre are located here. Other meeting venues are also available, such as MOTC’s Taiwan Railways Administration.
Delegates can be hosted in close proximity at hotels with business and meeting services, including Caesar Park Hotel Taipei, Sheraton Grand Taipei and Taipei Garden Hotel.
Unique gala event spaces have also raised the profile of Zhongzheng district, with big draws such as Huashan 1914 Creative Park and the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
Association events are overseen by MEET Taiwan, the Bureau of Foreign Trade’s business events promotion agency.
Top three economic pillars Medical and health science, electronics, information technology
Global access Taipei is mainly serviced by Taipei Tao-yuan International Airport, Taiwan’s largest and busiest airport. It is one of two air gateways to Taipei; the other, Taipei Songshan Airport, now serves chartered flights, domestic flights and limited international flights. – Pamela Chow
(8TH) SHANGHAI 79 ICCA-qualified association meetings
Shanghai’s investment in infrastructure development and facilities targeted at the meetings industry make the modern, bustling gateway a sought-after destination among international associations.
Shanghai has also expanded its conference ambassador programme to include representatives in the medical, mathematical, pharmaceutical and cultural fields.
The opening of new facilities like the mega National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) – the world’s largest complex when it opened in 2015 – has greatly improved the city’s positioning and is pushing demand for the Puxi area, in particular Hongqiao.
Shanghai has some 60 five-star and 70 four-star international brand hotels offering more than 100,000 rooms spread across two major business districts – Pudong in the east and Puxi in the west.
New hotel openings in 2017 include: the 187-room Meliá Shanghai Hongqiao near NECC; 396-room Cordis, Shanghai, Hongqiao with 1,600m2 of meeting space and near Hongqiao International Airport; the 374-room W Shanghai – The Bund with 5,800m2 of meeting space; and the 164-room Bellagio Shanghai with 2,000m2 of meeting space.
Shanghai offers numerous large meeting venue options. In Pudong the Shanghai Expo Centre – built for the 2010 Shanghai Expo – is a convenient taxi ride of between 10 and 20 minutes away from a number of business hotels and entertainment facilities.
To ensure ease of delegate movement, there are venues like the Shanghai International Convention Center, adjacent to the Oriental Riverside Hotel, and other nearby hotels include Pudong Shangri-La, Grand Hyatt Shanghai and Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai.
Top three economic pillars Financial services, retail and wholesale and real estate, although association meetings held in the city tend to be in the technology, medical sciences and management sectors
Global access Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao International Airport serve Shanghai’s two major business districts respectively. Passenger throughput of Pudong and Hongqiao airports in 2016 was 106 million, placing Shanghai number four in the world. The city is served by 107 airlines operating to 282 cities globally. Around 24 new routes have been newly launched to the Belt and Road countries. – Caroline Boey
(9TH) KUALA LUMPUR 68 ICCA-qualified association meetings
The capital city of Malaysia has two main convention centres in the capital.
The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre is a purpose-built facility with a gross built-up area of 120,000m2. There are 17,000 rooms within a five-kilometre radius of the venue.
The Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) opened its doors in August and is the country’s largest exhibition centre with over 45,000m2 of gross exhibition space. There are 5,600 hotel rooms of varying star ratings within a half-hour drive from MITEC.
Across the city are 30,302 hotel rooms. Four- and five-star properties come with meeting facilities suited for international business events.
The city also has unique venues suitable for dining functions, such as Aquaria KLCC which offers a spectacular view of marine life swimming in a gigantic aquarium.
There isn’t a city convention bureau for Kuala Lumpur, but support for association meetings can come from the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau.
Top three economic pillars Medical/pharmaceutical, science and technology, and logistics/shipping/freight
Global access The main international hubs are Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and klia2. KLIA serves full-service, scheduled carriers while Klia2 handles low-cost airlines and is the hub for AirAsia and AirAsia X. Subang International Airport is a city airport servicing regional destinations served by propeller jet. It is a hub for Firefly and Malindo Air. – S Puvaneswary
(10TH) SYDNEY 61 ICCA-qualified association meetings
As one of the world’s most desired cities to visit, Sydney prides itself on being a safe and stable place to do business with an established record of delivering polished events.
Sydney’s International Conventions Centre (ICC) is the city’s premier meeting space with indoor and outdoor networking areas that feature the world’s largest natural harbour and the Sydney city skyline as its backdrop. The ICC can host up to 8,000 people for a plenary and has a total exhibition space of 35,000m2. It is within walking distance to more than 15,000 hotel rooms.
The city offers unique venues for dinner events like the Sydney Town Hall (800 pax), the Australian Maritime Museum (190 pax), or Cockatoo Island where a corporate buyout is possible.
Business Events Sydney (BESydney) is the bureau for Sydney and New South Wales state, hosting about 90 international events in the last financial year. BESydney provides a Suppliers Search online service for planning events.
As well, conventions aligned with the city’s top economic pillars receive enhanced connections and collaboration with the New South Wales government for their events.
Top three economic pillars Health, science engineering and infrastructure, and professional service
Global access Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport is the main gateway to the city, serving 41.9 million international and domestic passengers in 2016. – Adelaine Ng