Businesses can collaborate to extend tourism vouchers' impact: Experts

Some are expressing concern that the benefits will not be evenly spread. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

How effective spending credits will be in boosting the tourism sector will depend on a range of factors, including the willingness of operators to collaborate and come up with new ideas, observers say.

As businesses clamour to take advantage of the $100 SingapoRediscover vouchers to be issued to all adult Singaporeans in December, some are expressing concern that the benefits will not be evenly spread.

Dr Kevin Cheong, chairman of the Association of Singapore Attractions, said redemptions may skew towards already popular operators, and "one single experience might consume all the credits in one family".

He urged hotels, attractions and tour operators to work together to create holistic staycation packages and offerings that help ensure the credits are spread across all members of the tourism ecosystem.

While food and beverage establishments and retailers are part of the $45 million SingapoRediscovers marketing campaign, the vouchers will be redeemable only at licensed hotels, attractions and with tour operators approved to reopen or resume by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

STB chief executive Keith Tan said yesterday that this is because these businesses depend on tourists for at least 70 per cent to 80 per cent of revenue and have been worse hit by the collapse of international travel.

Retailers and eateries will also benefit as more venture out on tours or visits to attractions, Mr Tan noted.

There are no plans to limit the number of vouchers that can be used in a single transaction, or to set out how they should be used, he added. The $10 vouchers can be spread out across separate visits, or used up at once on a staycation package, for example.

Dr Wong King Yin, a marketing lecturer at Nanyang Technological University, said the vouchers' impact will depend on consumers' willingness to spend beyond the $100.

"Let's say every Singaporean is very frugal and enjoys the vouchers but doesn't spend more. Then the stimulation (to the industry) may not be that much," she said.

Even if all $320 million in credits are utilised, the amount is only about 1 per cent of the $27.7 billion that tourists spent here last year, she noted.

But if businesses can come up with creative ways to woo locals, the vouchers can act as a catalyst for more spending.

Personal preferences and economic sentiment will also be factors in how consumers choose to use their credits and dig into their wallets, Dr Wong said.

Madam Ong Swee Tee, 74, said she is inclined to put the vouchers towards a staycation. However, navigating online booking and redemption platforms will be a challenge, said the coffee shop assistant.

Administrative executive Lee Kok Leong said the vouchers would encourage him to visit more attractions, as their entrance fees are "not so affordable".

"I can have more experiences if I spend on different attractions rather than using all for a staycation," said Mr Lee, 42. "Now is also the best time to enjoy these places, before the tourists return."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2020, with the headline Businesses can collaborate to extend tourism vouchers' impact: Experts. Subscribe