Singapore Tourism Board woos Indian travellers while borders are still closed

Filmmaker Zoya Akhtar and director Boo Junfeng engage in an online conversation in the first part of a web series called MySingaporeConnect.
Filmmaker Zoya Akhtar and director Boo Junfeng engage in an online conversation in the first part of a web series called MySingaporeConnect.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

NEW DELHI - As pandemic-weary Indian travellers begin to go on short getaways to accessible spots such as the Maldives and Dubai, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) wants to make sure Singapore as a destination is not forgotten.

Travel between Singapore and India has not opened up yet, but STB is organising a series of activities to highlight Singapore in India.

It has tied up with Bookmyshow, an online entertainment portal, for a four-part web series called MySingaporeConnect, in which Singaporean and Indian personalities like filmmaker Zoya Akhtar, the director of Gully Boy and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, and award winning director Boo Junfeng engage in online conversations.

Others who took part in the event, held over two weekends ending on Sunday (Dec 6) on the streaming platform BookMyShow Online, included home-grown DJ and producer Myrne and Indian singer and songwriter Prateek Kuhad, whose song Cold/Mess was on former US President Barack Obama's list of favourite music of 2019.

"I think the key objective is to keep the consumer engagement going. I know the borders are closed, travel hasn't restarted. But I think it is important that for us to keep consumers informed," said Mr G. B. Srithar, STB's regional director for India, Middle East and South Asia.

"It's not possible to bring the travellers to Singapore, so we are bringing Singapore to the travellers. In this virtual world, I think for us it's important we communicate what some of the happenings are in Singapore. We don't want a situation where there is silence in the market because there is no travel."

Singapore is also the partner country for music festival, NH7 weekender, which has seen over 140,000 attendees in its last two events which went digital this year because of the pandemic.

Singaporean rapper Yung Raja was on the artist line-up for the Dec 5 to 6 virtual event with a new music video showcasing Little India, Bugis, Skyville at Dawson, the Esplanade, and other locations in Singapore.

STB is also participating in the Windmill Festival 2020, a festival for children, in December.

India is an important tourism market for Singapore, with 1.42 million visitors last year, the third largest visitor source for Singapore. Altogether, 26.29 million Indians travelled abroad.

But the pandemic has disrupted travel. India has over 9.5 million coronavirus cases and is the world's second most-affected country.

It has air bubble arrangements with several countries but not Singapore, where it is operating only repatriation flights.


Mr Srithar said uncertainty remained over when travel would restart but that South-east Asia remained popular among Indian travellers.

"From a lot of the consumer feedback reports, Singapore is definitely quite high in the consideration for Indian consumers. They are quite clear that when Singapore is ready to allow Indian travellers, they would like to come to Singapore," said Mr Srithar.

"People have gone through so much we wanted to conclude it on a note about people and a note about cross borders where we are connecting virtually."