Compared with Europe, convention bureaus in Asia are facing more challenges in bringing sustainability into the exhibitions. Being the only party responsible for educating, supporting and facilitating the co-operation within the industry, bureaus encounter difficulties in implementing sustainable practices. The lack of demand in sustainability in Asia also worsen the situation.
In order to cope with the challenges, the bureaus of Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan has developed comprehensive sustainability guidelines and tools for event organisers, venues and suppliers. The guidelines and tools are freely shared. In Singapore, MICE Sustainability Guidelines, taking international standards namely ISO 20121 and the APEX/ASTM as reference, was established in 2013. “These guidelines serve as a common reference to help and encourage local meeting planners and other tourism stakeholders to embrace sustainable practices across the different aspects of the MICE business value chain, from planning business events to delivering enriching experiences to MICE visitors.” said Chew Tiong Heng, the Business Tourism Development Executive Director of Singapore Tourism Board (STM).
And in Taiwan, Meet Taiwan launched comprehensive sustainability guidelines in 2013 following the implementation of low-carbon guidelines in 2012. “We revise the guidelines every year and added the ISO 20121 sustainable event management concept in 2014 and carbon neutrality in 2015. This is in order to catch global trends and make the guidelines more meaningful and practical.” said Crystal Yu, the spokesperson of Green MICE Project (under Meet Taiwan).
Each bureau adheres with the guidelines when organizing their own events and Singapore bureau takes a step further that only Green Mark-certified venues will be chosen for all government events so as to encourage the industry to take up the sustainable guidelines. By doing so, the vendors will be motivated to provide sustainable meeting products and services in the industry as the demand is created. Moreover, the suppliers and bureau become knowledgeable partners by building the first-hand experience of venues and thus can better guide organisers who are new to sustainability. The organisers can also clear their misconception about practising sustainable guidelines by experiencing in person in the delegation organized by the bureaus.
In 2016, education and incentives will be the focus of STB to stimulate the take-up by the industry. They are also planning to launch certification based on the the guidelines. As for Thailand, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau will continue focusing on promoting within the MICE supply chain.