Plenty to do and discover here, tourism chief tells S'poreans

Straits Times travel correspondent Clara Lock and Singapore Tourism Board chief executive Keith Tan at askST@NLB's second November session. Mr Tan hopes that Singaporeans will "take the time to slow down, step out and be proud of this beautiful littl
Straits Times travel correspondent Clara Lock and Singapore Tourism Board chief executive Keith Tan at askST@NLB's second November session. Mr Tan hopes that Singaporeans will "take the time to slow down, step out and be proud of this beautiful little country we have". ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

Covid-19 has stalled most international travel, but there is still plenty to do right here.

This was the main message that Mr Keith Tan, chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), wanted to send to Singaporeans on Thursday.

Although most Singaporeans may not be able to travel abroad until next year, there is no shortage of things to do with their annual leave.

Speaking to Straits Times travel correspondent Clara Lock, 30, as part of askST @ NLB's second November session, Mr Tan said: "We have a lot more attractions than most people think we have. The big hits - the zoo, Universal Studios - those are the tip of the iceberg. There's so much to discover."

For the past few months, the STB has been working with Enterprise Singapore and the Sentosa Development Corporation on the SingapoRediscovers campaign.

In the process, they had to tailor experiences for the local market. Unlike tourists who save and budget to travel here, Singaporeans rarely look to spend big locally.

Mr Tan said this meant that the STB and its tourism partners have had to "work harder to create packages and bundles that represent good value to Singaporeans".

They had no lack of domestic attractions to work with. Ms Lock pointed to local tourism businesses that have sprung up during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as Ninja Kayakers and Indie Singapore.

Mr Tan agreed that those were "great examples of innovative young entrepreneurs" and stressed that "STB wants to support such efforts".

As part of the SingapoRediscovers campaign, all Singaporeans aged 18 and above will receive $100 worth of vouchers next month.

These can be used for stay-cations, tickets to leisure attractions and local tours. They will be distributed via SingPass in denominations of $10, and will be valid until the end of June next year.

The hope is that Singaporeans will discover hidden gems and unknown history close to home.

Mr Tan recounted how he and his family recently explored Little India, which he had not visited "for almost 20 years, apart from the main road (Serangoon Road)".

The 46-year-old, who has four children, described how they went on a walking tour and discovered "beautiful artwork and murals", as well as their "new favourite place to eat naan and butter chicken".

Given the pandemic, cleanliness and hygiene will remain the primary concern of people venturing outdoors.

As at Oct 30, the STB has given more than 1,300 SG Clean Quality Mark certificates to tourism enterprises. These signal that the establishment in question is committed to upholding good sanitation and hygiene practices.

At the same time, Mr Tan also expressed his belief in the importance of "our national posture, our personal attitudes, our behaviours" in the long term.

"I firmly believe that there's a lot here in Singapore that makes us quite unique," he said. "I hope that Singaporeans will take the time to slow down, step out and be proud of this beautiful little country we have."


AskST @  NLB is a collaboration between The Straits Times and National Library Board.

Watch the video here.

Those who are keen to look for resources from the National Library Board, can check out ProQuest Central, a database subscribed to by NLB. A myLibraryID is needed to access this database. If you do not have a myLibraryID, you can go to this website and sign up for one using your SingPass or NRIC/FIN. 

What to read

Singapore: A walking tour by Gregory Byrne Bracken

This book is available at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library and at various public and regional libraries.

The Kallang story: A sports, arts and heritage trail

This book is available at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library.

Singapore's 100 historic places

This book is available at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library.

The next AskST @ NLB session will be on on home-based businesses, and will be streamed on ST's Facebook on Friday, Dec 18 at 7pm. 

Listen to food editor Tan Hsueh Yun share her thoughts on this new force to be reckoned with, and what the future holds for them.

Have a question for ST’s food editor, Tan Hsueh Yun, on the topic?
Send it to str.sg/askstDEC by Dec 9, 7pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2020, with the headline 'Plenty to do and discover here, tourism chief tells S'poreans'. Subscribe