More funds for training course fees, salary support for hotels that send staff for training and a $1,000 payout to tour guides are among measures introduced to bolster tourism companies hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.
These moves to ease the impact of the Covid-19 disease were announced in a statement yesterday by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore, together with the Singapore Hotel Association and Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union.
Part of the Stabilisation and Support Package announced this week in the Budget statement, they were presented by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat during a visit to Copthorne King's Hotel.
Mrs Teo said: "Because of the outbreak and the impact on the tourism sector, we are definitely very concerned and we want to help them tide over this period."
The business lull, caused by the drop in visitors, is also an opportunity to improve the skills of staff "that will help them when recovery comes", she added.
"We know this is a temporary setback so we can take advantage of this opportunity to be prepared for the future because the outlook is still fundamentally positive," she said.
To strengthen these workers' capabilities, the STB's Training Industry Professionals in Tourism fund will pay up to 90 per cent of training course fees and trainer fees. The previous cap was 50 per cent.
In addition, funding for absentee payroll will go up from $4.50 an hour to 90 per cent of the worker's hourly basic salary, capped at $10 an hour.
Similarly, SkillsFuture Singapore will do the same for employers that send their workers for selected sector-specific training programmes.
For the next three months, it will give them absentee payroll support at 90 per cent of the hourly basic salary, capped at $10 an hour, plus fund 90 per cent of the course fees.
Meanwhile, Workforce Singapore will enhance its Job Redesign Place-and-Train Programme for Hotel Industry to equip staff with higher skills.
Hotels will get salary support of up to 70 per cent, capped at $2,000 a month per employee. The duration of the support will be extended to six months. Previously, it was three months.
Mr Chee gave details of the support for tourist guides, many of whom are self-employed or freelancers, he noted.
STB will give them $1,000 over three months to help with some of their basic living expenses.
Eligible guides have to be licensed, a Singapore citizen or permanent resident, and self-employed.
Those who qualify can apply through the Travel Agents and Tourist Guides Licensing System from March 1 to April 30.
Also, tourist guides who complete 80 hours of training will get a training allowance of $600 from Workforce Singapore.
Its chief executive Tan Choon Shian said: "We hope these measures to help companies defray training and wage costs through reskilling workers will give those operating and working in the sector some respite during this trying period."
STB's chief executive Keith Tan added: "While this is a tough time for tourism, we must position ourselves for a strong recovery. These measures will help us do that."