New facility provides for safe business travel
Business travellers will be able to stay and have in-person meetings at a dedicated facility at the Singapore Expo without having to first quarantine themselves.
This is possible with the launch of the first phase of Connect@ Changi yesterday, in a move to resume international business meetings in Singapore amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who launched Connect@Changi, noted that while many businesses have shifted to having virtual meetings, these cannot fully replace face-to-face interactions.
"For some, physical meetings are still important for securing and closing business deals, and making important decisions," he said. "Face-to-face interactions are important for growing relationships, strengthening partnerships and exploring new business opportunities."
The new facility, with 150 rooms in the first phase, has been billed as the first of its kind in the world. It has 40 meeting rooms of different sizes - the smallest can take four people and the largest, 22. The current capacity was built within 14 weeks.
When fully operational later this year, it will be able to host up to 1,300 business travellers.
The facility's opening marks the start of the Connect@Singapore scheme that will open Singapore's borders to business, official and high-economic-value travellers.
Under the scheme, travellers can meet in Singapore at designated facilities but have to remain within the facilities throughout their stay. They also have to regularly take Covid-19 tests in lieu of being quarantined.
Those who opt to stay there will be transported from the airport to Hall 7 at the Singapore Expo directly after a Covid-19 test. Those who test negative can then have meetings with safe distancing measures in place.
Travellers who want to meet Singapore residents can do so in meeting rooms divided by airtight glass partitions, and through speakers equipped in their respective halves of the rooms.
During the travellers' stay, meals and requested amenities will be placed on shelves outside their rooms to reduce physical interaction between them and the staff.
The project is being developed by a local consortium led by Temasek, and includes The Ascott Limited and Changi Airport Group.
Temasek International senior managing director Alan Thompson said the consortium is confident there will be demand for Connect@Changi, based on the number of inquiries it has received and its analysis of pre-Covid-19 business travel data.