$45m campaign launched to revive local tourism industry

It is part of broader plan to get badly hit sector to reinvent, redesign its offerings

A staircase at Fort Canning that is a popular photography spot for tourists. The nine-month SingapoRediscovers campaign will have packages and deals for locals, heartland tours and the promotion of precincts as mini-holiday destinations. ST PHOTO: JA
A staircase at Fort Canning that is a popular photography spot for tourists. The nine-month SingapoRediscovers campaign will have packages and deals for locals, heartland tours and the promotion of precincts as mini-holiday destinations. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

A $45 million campaign will be rolled out to drive local spending to Singapore's eateries, shops and leisure attractions, which are reeling from a tourist drought caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The nine-month SingapoRediscovers campaign by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Enterprise Singapore and Sentosa Development Corporation aims to give lifestyle and tourism businesses a much-needed boost after months of nearly non-existent demand.

In store are packages and deals for locals, heartland tours and the promotion of precincts as mini-holiday destinations.

Speaking at the campaign launch yesterday, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said it is part of a broader medium-term plan to get Singapore's tourism industry to reinvent and redesign its offerings.

He noted that the demand for mass market tourism is unlikely to recover in the near term unless a vaccine is made available, and the global environment could remain volatile as countries are hit with recurring waves of infection.

During the virtual dialogue Mr Chan had with industry members, questions largely centred on Singapore's ban on short-term visitors. He said essential business travel will resume first through more green lane arrangements with other countries.

Small groups, like performers, could also be allowed in for events, which may soon be allowed to resume with a limit of 50 people.

The market will gradually resume with higher-quality travellers first, he said. "It will be a niche market game and not a mass market game."

Besides rethinking its products to tap demand for quality niche market services, the tourism industry will also likely have to develop an end-to-end suite of services for travellers, Mr Chan added.

"Our model of providing a tourism product will have to be end-to-end, starting from before, during and after the so-called consumption of the product in Singapore," he said. This includes catering for how travellers move around and ensuring their safety here.

Outlining how he sees the industry evolving, he said the Government's priority in the near term is to save as many jobs as possible and help workers who have lost their jobs. In the medium term, businesses have to develop products to cater to niche business travellers as well as locals, he said.

 
 
 
 

The minister cited plans to reinvent the Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events model by using technology to host large-scale events. Two conferences taking place later this year will have up to 50 on-site attendees and an expected 1,000 virtual attendees each.

"If we can do this well in Singapore, we will then show the way for the rest of the industry in other parts of the world to come together to work with us as well," he said.

He also spoke of the need to re-imagine tourism offerings to capture more of the domestic market, and set new health and service standards to build on the country's reputation as a safe and trusted hub.

In the long term, Singapore remains committed to executing plans like the redevelopment of the Singapore Racecourse in Kranji into a leisure destination that will complement nature-based attractions in the Mandai area, he said.

STB chief executive Keith Tan noted that more job losses are inevitable in the coming months.

With leisure travel not expected to return substantially any time soon, tourism businesses must tap domestic demand - a challenging proposition in the current climate.

Urging locals to help make the campaign a success, Mr Tan said: "There's a lot that we love about Singapore that I suspect Singaporeans take for granted - your favourite chicken rice shop, your favourite mall in Orchard Road, your favourite attraction... These will disappear if Singaporeans don't step up to support these businesses."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2020, with the headline '$45m campaign launched to revive local tourism industry'. Subscribe