More merchants join tourism voucher scheme

STB reviewing eligibility of hostels with private facilities for use of these vouchers

The National Museum of Singapore will also be launching SingapoRediscovers vouchers experiences.
The National Museum of Singapore will also be launching SingapoRediscovers vouchers experiences.ST PHOTO: VENESSA LEE

Singaporeans who have not redeemed their SingapoRediscovers vouchers (SRV) have more options now as the list of eligible merchants is expanding.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is also actively reviewing whether hostels with private facilities - such as private en-suite rooms - can be made safe for leisure stays and eligible for the SRV scheme.

This is in line with STB's progressive reopening of tourism businesses to safeguard the health and safety of Singaporeans, and to minimise the risk of new Covid-19 clusters, the board told The Straits Times on Saturday.

Currently, the SRV vouchers can be used only for hotel stays, local attractions and tours.

More merchants in these categories are expected to come on board, STB said.

The Asian Civilisations Museum is one such merchant, having joined this month.

The National Heritage Board, which oversees eight museums and heritage institutions here, said last Friday: "The National Museum of Singapore will also be launching SingapoRediscovers vouchers experiences. More details will be made available when ready."

As at last Wednesday, 206 hotels, 146 tour operators and 43 attractions are on the list of SRV-eligible merchants. There are also more than 440 SRV-eligible products available for booking, as at Jan 1, on the five authorised booking partners' platforms.

Back in November last year, The Straits Times reported that the vouchers could be spent on 178 hotels, tours operated by 79 tour operators as well as 39 attractions from the following month.

The vouchers, which must be redeemed by June 30, have given some attractions here a big boost.

For example, the Science Centre Singapore saw more visitors after it became an SRV-eligible merchant on Dec 1 last year. "We have seen a 20 per cent increase in guest numbers from before the vouchers were introduced. More than 30 per cent of the overall tickets sold are SRV redemptions," a Science Centre spokesman said.

For now, the vouchers cannot be used at hostels, which were badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. "As backpackers' hostels are close-living quarters where non-related individuals are likely to come into close contact, often in enclosed spaces, and for prolonged periods of time, MTI (Ministry of Trade and Industry) has not allowed hostels to accept bookings by locals for leisure purposes," said STB.

For Pod Boutique Capsule Hotel general manager Steven Lee, the past year has been a difficult one for the hostel. "Phase three is here and they've started to relax some of the rules. But I don't know how long it'll take for this to apply to us," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2021, with the headline 'More merchants join tourism voucher scheme'. Subscribe