July 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)   CAN ADDED SAFETY REGULATIONS CURE A REGIONWIDE IMAGE PROBLEM?

Promising a Healthier Asia

Suntec Singapore International Convention Center
Suntec Singapore International Convention Center Now that SARS-related travel advisories are beginning to lift from several Asian countries, meetings destinations are imposing new health standards to lure group business back.

Hotels across Asia have adopted new health and safety standards, including intensified cleaning regimens, enhanced air filtration and improved food handling.

Days after the World Health Organization travel advisory ended in May, Hong Kong health officials announced “zero tolerance” laws on public spitting and littering. They also vowed to crack down on dirty back alleys and illegal food kiosks, which are irksome to Western tourists.

In Singapore, which has long enjoyed a reputation for cleanliness, hygiene standards have been improved through public education and stringent health certification programs for tourist venues. This summer, the city-state will spend more than $100 million on a plan to rekindle tourism.

Travel advisories or not, companies are skittish about booking events in Asia, according to Lynda Ann Obront, director of sales, North America, at Tour East, a Singapore-based destination management company.

The next few months will be key as SARS-affected areas try to instill trust in travelers, said Obront, who added that “confidence-building will be the important issue.”

Despite such efforts, “most people in the industry are projecting it will take two to three months [for Asia to] bounce back,” said Mark McClelland, Sydney, Australia-based managing director of the George P. Johnson Co., a global event marketing firm in Auburn Hills, Mich.


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