Staging of events like SailGP positive sign for recovery of S’pore’s tourism sector, says official

The Singapore Sail Grand Prix is the first South-east Asian leg of the hydrofoiling series, and will return over the next two seasons. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE – New and exciting products like the Singapore Sail Grand Prix will help aid the Republic’s tourism recovery post-Covid, said Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry Alvin Tan on Sunday.

The event, which was held on Saturday and Sunday, is the first South-east Asian leg of the US$1 million (S$1.34 million) hydrofoiling series and will return to the Republic over the next two seasons.

Speaking to the media at the Singapore SailGP, Mr Tan said: “We had originally said that we expect tourism to return to full velocity in the mid-2020s. Now it’s accelerating and we expect recovery next year – 2024 – owing to the fact that China is reopening, the reopening of borders, as well as many of the new products and services coming into Singapore.

“So there’s huge optimism in what Singapore has to offer – we’ve had not just SailGP, but many big events.”

Citing the return of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix in October 2022, last week’s Art SG and the inaugural Olympic Esports Week in June, he added that “we have a whole variety of products and services to put Singapore on the sporting map and to revitalise our tourism post-Covid”.

In 2022, marquee sports events such as the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens also returned here after a hiatus owing to the pandemic, while new events such as the Tour de France Singapore Criterium, table tennis’ Singapore Smash and golf’s Singapore Women’s Open also made their debuts.

Mr Tan added that the Government will be injecting $110 million – out of the $500 million announced in April 2022 to aid in tourism recovery – over the next two years to develop exciting products and events for the leisure and Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) industry. No details were provided on how much money would be invested in the sports sector.

After hosting a record 19.1 million visitors and generating $27.7 billion in tourism receipts in 2019, the closure of borders and introduction of tight travel restrictions saw the Republic’s visitor arrivals drop by more than 80 per cent year-on-year to 2.7 million in 2020. Visitor arrivals fell further to 330,000 in 2021.

While not quite yet at pre-pandemic numbers, tourism recovery is on track. Singapore saw 5.37 million visitor arrivals as at the end of November 2022 – well within the Singapore Tourism Board’s projection of four million to six million visitor arrivals by the year end.

While there were no details about the events that Singapore is targeting, Mr Tan said: “We’re being very creative – we’re looking at a variety of opportunities... What we’re doing is trying to look at new ways, new creative ways to bring in new products to Singapore and anchor Singapore as the hub for tourism, for sports and also for leisure.”

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