“The incentive industry is negative!” That's how I.B. Lolec, managing director of Pacific World Nusantara, a Bali, Indonesia-based destination management company, sums up business since the terrorist bombing in mid-October that killed more than 180 people, mostly foreign tourists. Lolec says her incoming U.S. incentive travel programs had dropped by 90 percent after the attacks of 9/11/01, but “the U.S. market had just about begun to kick in again.” Now, however, “after the blast, we are facing a total loss — 100 percent.”
With the U.S. Department of State's strongly worded travel warning — “All American citizens in Indonesia should evaluate their security posture and consider departing the country” — and lesser but similarly unsettling “public announcements” regarding travel to other Southeast Asian countries, U.S. event planners are predicted to pick less precarious destinations, at least in the near-term.
Hotels in the region, nevertheless, are doing what they can to reassure meeting clients. Singapore's Raffles City Convention Centre, for example, has intensified its security since the Bali bombing. “During an event, we are able to seal off all entrances and exits completely, allowing only authorized personnel and delegates to access the Convention Centre. In addition, we have increased the frequency of security patrols in public areas,” says Markland Blaiklock, managing director of Raffles The Plaza and Swissotel The Stamford. “An awareness program was put in place to constantly remind employees to be on the lookout for suspicious parcels and characters.”
At Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Center, the security push came after 9/11, with increased numbers of security cameras and other controls. As a result of the Bali attack, Sueanne Mocktar Ng, assistant director of marketing communications, anticipates a slowdown in the number of delegates from the United States, Australia, and Britain, but right now, she says, it's a “wait and see” situation.
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