This is a big win for the Singapore Tourism Board. The World's 50 Best show is hardly a fair representation of global gastronomic excellence, but it is a marketing juggernaut for host cities, and Singapore will be the center of attention in the food world when the partnership kicks off next year.
— Erika Adams
The free-wheeling, money-making machine that is the World’s 50 Best Awards is headed to Singapore. William Reed Business Media, the U.K.-based trade media company behind the awards show, announced today that the company has finalized a three-year partnership deal with the Singapore Tourism Board to host a number of events in Singapore, including the flagship World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards show in 2019.
It’s the first time that William Reed has entered into an official partnership with a host city that promises future events beyond the awards show next year. According to the deal, William Reed will host a variety of World’s 50 Best events stretching into 2021, including the World’s 50 Best Bars awards (marking the first time that this show will be hosted outside of London) and an edition of the 50 Best Talks, a “thought-leadership event” that is hosted in a rotating cast of cities.
It’s also the first time that a city in Asia will play host to the main restaurants awards show, although a World’s 50 Best subsidiary, the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards show, has been held in Singapore from 2013 to 2015, in Bangkok, Thailand from 2016 to 2017, and in Macao, China in 2018.
The World’s 50 Best organization has fielded plenty of criticism for its restaurant selection, from not including enough women to narrowly representing what makes a world-class restaurant — in this case, more often than not it’s a western tasting menu-style, high-priced establishment. And there’s no guarantee that a location change, even to what has become high-profile food-lovers’ paradise, will impact the awards themselves.
“Hosting the internationally-renowned 50 Best branded events in Singapore, including The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and The World’s 50 Best Bars, bears testament to Singapore’s rising stature as a gastronomic and nightlife capital,” Melissa Ow, the acting chief executive officer of the Singapore Tourism Board, said in a statement. “Through this partnership and series of events, we hope to raise the bar for Singapore’s food and beverage industry, as well as profile our culinary and cocktail offerings to top industry professionals and visitors. Over time, we also believe it will translate into more opportunities for our home-grown dining and cocktail establishments through greater global exposure and business possibilities.”
Impact on Local Tourism
The Singapore Tourism Board has been working hard to position itself as a luxury travel destination, as Skift has covered extensively. Earlier this year, the board told Skift that about 70 percent of the U.S. tourism market in Singapore is leisure-focused, and just 30 percent business-focused.
In that sense, the World’s 50 Best partnership is a smart step forward to cementing that luxury image. In past years, William Reed has proven that the World’s 50 Best show is a beneficial marketing move for local tourism boards. Tourism Australia, which hosted the awards show in 2017, previously told Skift Table that they measured over five billion global media impressions from the thousands of articles that were generated from the event, and the state of Victoria saw a 50 percent increase in restaurant bookings after the awards show. The exposure would have been the equivalent of an advertising spend of $42.5 million in U.S. dollars.
The exposure didn’t come entirely for free, though: according to the New York Times, Tourism Australia paid approximately $600,000 USD to be an official World’s 50 Best sponsor. The Singapore Tourism Board declined to elaborate on the funding behind their partnership, citing business confidentiality reasons.
“The partnership will further strengthen Singapore’s position as a compelling food and beverage hub,” Kershing Goh, Singapore Tourism Board’s regional director of the Americas, told Skift Table in an email. “Hosting the series of 50 Best events in Singapore will increase mindshare of Singapore amongst international industry players, translating into opportunities for our home-grown dining and cocktail establishments to reap greater global exposure and explore more business possibilities.”
Goh also noted that the board expects to see increased tourist spending on Singapore’s food and beverage offerings due to the partnership, as well as overall industry development due to the visiting talent that the partnership will attract.
“For instance, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 will include an interactive culinary student program and collaboration dinners between the world’s best chefs and Singapore-based chefs,” Goh explained. “These platforms for home-grown culinary talents to gain greater international exposure and valuable learning opportunities are aligned with STB’s industry development objectives to groom the next generation of top local chefs.”
The World’s 50 Best is an extremely effective vehicle to promote all of these initiatives due to the clout it carries within the industry. “We also hope to see healthy competition as local dining and bar brands vie for an opportunity to be on the list,” Goh added. “In the longer term, we believe this will help spur continued innovation and elevation of craft amongst industry players.”