SingaporeSingapore tourism ‘better prepared and more resilient’ in the face of its biggest challenge since SARS, which could see a 25-30% fall in arrivals

STB to form tourism task force to spearhead ‘strong recovery’

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Singapore to steer out ahead towards tourism recovery with task force to be formed to map out recovery strategies and plans.
Singapore to steer out ahead towards tourism recovery with task force to be formed to map out recovery strategies and plans. Photo Credit: Getty Images

SINGAPORE – Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced today (Feb 11) that it will form a Tourism Recovery Action Task Force to lead the tourism industry towards “a strong recovery”.

STB had earlier announced support measures including the waiver of licence fees for hotels, travel agents and tourist guides, and defraying cleaning costs for hotels with suspected and confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus. Additional support measures will be announced at the Budget on Feb. 18.

The board expects that tourism arrivals and receipts this year will take a “significant hit” as a result of the ongoing nCoV crisis, shaving off some 25- to 30% of international visitor arrivals.

STB’s chief executive Keith Tan acknowledged that “Singapore’s tourism sector is facing its biggest challenge since SARS in 2003”.

“But unlike SARS, we are now better prepared and more resilient. Our destination remains attractive, we have a strong pipeline of tourism products, and our market portfolio is diverse,” he added.

The new task force will be formed to map out recovery strategies and plans for the growth of tourism.

Comprising tourism leaders from private and public sectors, the work of the task force will include implementing measures to instil confidence in Singapore’s tourism establishments and initiating recovery plans. More details will be revealed at a later date.

STB had earlier announced support measures including the waiver of licence fees for hotels, travel agents and tourist guides, and defraying cleaning costs for hotels with suspected and confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus. Additional support measures will be announced at the Budget on Feb. 18.

The virus outbreak in recent weeks has impacted visitor arrivals to Singapore, especially from China, which accounts for about 20% of the country’s total arrivals.

Arrivals from other key source markets are also expected to fall due to “lower travel confidence globally”, STB predicted.

Buoyant 2019
The current crisis comes in the wake of a fourth consecutive record year for Singapore tourism.

In 2019, visitor arrivals rose 3.3% to notch 19.1 million visitors and some S$27.1 billion in tourism receipts, which grew by a marginal 0.5%.

The growth in receipts was anchored by increases in shopping (3%) and other components (4%), which includes airfare revenue from local-based carriers. This is despite declines in areas such as accommodations (-7%), food and beverage (-5%) and sightseeing, entertainment and gaming (-2%).

Eleven out of Singapore’s top 15 source markets expanded, including record high arrivals in markets such as China, Indonesia, Australia, Philippines, US, South Korea, UK, Vietnam and Germany.

“The growth that we have enjoyed over the past four years reflects our strong tourism fundamentals,” commented Mr Tan.

“With the support of the industry and through our joint taskforce, we will continue to build our capabilities, transform our tourism businesses, and rebound strongly from the Novel Coronavirus,” he added.

Hotels also performed strongly with average occupancy notching 87.1% that generated some S$4.2 billion for the industry. Average Room Rates (ARR) rose to S$221 while Revenue per Available Room (RevPar) reached S$193.

While cruise tourism saw a 2.5% fall in passenger numbers to 1.8 million, largely due to the month-long dry dock of Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas for refurbishment, foreign cruise throughput rose 3.5% and the number of ship calls grew by 3.2% to 414.

Full steam ahead
Ongoing tourism mega projects are continuing as planned, such as the Mandai Nature Precinct, the Jurong Lake District, the Sentosa-Brani masterplan, as is the rejuvenation of Orchard Road and expansion of the country’s two Integrated Resorts.

“STB remains committed to our mid- to long-term tourism plans, to ensure that Singapore has a steady pipeline of new and repeat visitors,” said Mr Tan.

“It is more important than ever to invest in tourism to support our businesses, build confidence in tourism, and boost our destination attractiveness – so that when things start to improve, Singapore can ride on the recovery for strong growth,” he added.

This year, new developments include light and sound show Magical Shores at Siloso, Dota 2 Singapore Major and Matisse & Picasso, the first of four special international art exhibitions at National Gallery Singapore.

The decommissioned power station at 27 Pasir Panjang Road (27PP) will also host a series of lifestyle events across different genres, spanning from art to music and dining, as an interim indoor events space. 

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