STB cautious on recovery timeframe

SINGAPORE, 5 February 2021: Singapore’s visitor arrivals fell by 85.7 in 2020 to reach 2.7 million visitors (nearly all from the first two months of 2020), while tourism receipts declined by 78.4% to SGD4.4 billion in the first three quarters of 2020.

In its year-end review posted online this week, Singapore Tourism Board concedes 2020 was the toughest year on record, but its tourism sector took strides to reimagine offerings and experiences while supporting nationwide efforts to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore Tourism Board chief executive Keith Tan pledged: “While mass international travel is unlikely to resume in a major way in 2021, STB will continue standing together with our industry partners to prepare for recovery and to start building a better and more sustainable future for tourism.”

Battling Covid-19

Hotels and tourism businesses played a key role in Singapore’s battle against Covid-19. Hotels offered their properties for various accommodation purposes, including Government Quarantine Facilities, Swab Isolation Facilities and Stay-Home Notice Dedicated Facilities (SDFs). More than 70 hotels have served as SDFs at various points in since March 2020.  As of 31 December 2020, SDFs have accommodated more than 80,000 Persons on Stay-Home Notice, with the support of over 2,300 frontline workers in the hotel industry.

Reopening tourism safely

As of 25 January 2021, 45 attractions, 270 hotels, and 1,686 tour itineraries have received approval to resume operations.

From November 2020, Singapore also piloted cruises with enhanced safety protocols and no ports of call for two of Singapore’s homeported cruise lines – Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International. To rebuild consumer confidence and demand for cruises, STB established the world’s first CruiseSafe Certification – a mandatory audit and certification programme for cruise lines before they commence sailing. As of 31 December 2020, 33 cruises carrying over 42,000 passengers have been completed with no reported incidents of Covid-19 transmission on board.

Resuming events

From 1 October 2020, STB began accepting applications for organisers to pilot MICE events of up to 250 attendees. As of 31 December 2020, Singapore has held 29 MICE event pilots, with the first being the Singapore International Energy Week late October 2020.

Domestic tourism a lifesaver

With international travel at a standstill, domestic demand became critical to support tourism businesses. In July 2020, STB, Enterprise Singapore and Sentosa Development Corporation rolled out the SingapoRediscovers campaign to rally locals to support tourism businesses and promote hidden gems and experiences in Singapore. As of 31 December 2020, there were 1,145 promotions offered by 213 merchants. 

To complement the SingapoRediscovers campaign, STB launched the SGD320 million SingapoRediscovers Vouchers (SRV) scheme in December 2020. As of 1 January 2021, over 300,000 Singaporeans had used the SRV scheme to make bookings with Singapore hotels, attractions and tours, spending SGD35.9 million in SRV redemptions and out-of-pocket payments.

STB also forged new partnerships with e-commerce players, banks, payment gateways and online travel agents (OTAs), including Visa, DBS, Expedia, Klook, Airbnb Experiences and Mastercard, to promote

Looking ahead

STB noted that even with the development of several vaccines, it will take time for mass leisure travel and traveller confidence to return.

“Therefore, we expect tourism arrivals and tourism receipts to remain weak in 2021.”

In 2021, STB will continue to support quality tourism businesses to sustain key capabilities and build new ones, and to innovate in order to meet evolving consumer needs and emerging travel trends once cross-border travel resumes in a significant way. STB will also continue to support local jobs and create opportunities for the industry to thrive in the new environment by encouraging domestic advocacy and building domestic demand.

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