Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has been working closely with stakeholders to plan and prepare for the recovery. These measures include retaining key capabilities, reimagining experiences, and forging strategic partnership to drive demand amongst others. To retain key capabilities, STB’s support measures
over the past two years have focused on saving jobs and reducing costs for businesses and these efforts have helped tourism businesses retain manpower and capabilities, Keith Tan, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Tourism Board, said in an e-mail interaction with T3. Also, Tourism businesses have invested time to come up with innovative experiences that are sure to delight visitors to Singapore.
“We collaborated with key partners such as Changi Airport Group, Singapore Airlines and Agoda. Along with them, we will continue the ‘Welcome Back to Singapore’ global co-brand campaign to instil confidence and drive bookings. Through our partnership with Agoda, we will tap into its technology and travel expertise to reach out to potential travellers in the region,” Tan added.
Singapore opened to quarantine-free travel to all fully vaccinated visitors on 1 April 2022, with no testing required. “We launched SingapoReimagine – our international recovery campaign. For the India market, we aim to take this campaign to tier 2 and 3 markets by offering personalised experiences to our audience through virtual and on ground activations,” the CEO informed.
The Board has accelerated their digital activation more aggressively during the pandemic. Singapore is reimagining a new standard of travel and has developed the Tourism Information and Services Hub to support businesses in their tech transformation. Some of the key digital initiatives the STB has undertaken recently are Unique Digital Identity, Contactless and Seamless Experience and Hybrid Experiences/Events etc.
“We are actively looking for possible tourism use cases in Extended Reality (XR), an umbrella which encompasses all immersive technologies that blend digital content with the real world. These technologies can bring places, people and stories to life for visitors in an immersive way, from pre- to post-arrival,” Tan revealed.
While taking new initiatives to negate the impact of the pandemic, STB is also focused on driving the sustainable business growth. STB is constantly incorporating sustainability elements into their tourism offerings to achieve the vision of becoming a City in Nature. The Board is developing a destination sustainability strategy and roadmap for the tourism sector in accordance with the Singapore Green Plan 2030.
“We launched the Hotel Sustainability Roadmap, the world’s first collective effort by a city’s hotels. In line with the Singapore Green Plan 2030, the Hotel Sustainability Roadmap sets out clear targets and strategies for hotels to adopt in their sustainability journey. This industry-led roadmap enables Singapore’s hotels to contribute to sustainable development goals and capture new opportunities presented by the Green Economy,” Tan stated.
Singapore’s tourism sector is well-prepared for instilling the confidence among travellers. As of April 2022, more than 1,600 tourism-related premises are certified SG Clean, their staff are familiar with COVID-19 protocols and technology is being deployed across many experiences to reduce contact and enhance hygiene. Tourism businesses have also spent the past two years rolling out many innovative and authentic experiences to appeal to locals, he added.
Replying to a question on strategy to bring back the arrivals to 2019 level, Tan said: " The recovery of business and leisure travel is largely dependent on the evolving health situation and the emergence of new variants like Omicron. As such, we expect it will take a few years for business and leisure travel to recover to pre-pandemic levels."
He further added that as travellers become more accustomed to the new requirements and processes become more streamlined, we expect travel volume to pick up and for vaccinated travel to become the norm. “In the meantime, we remain committed to support and develop our industry through this volatile period, to put Singapore on a strong footing for future recovery,” he added.
Talking about the joint promotional and marketing strategy with airlines, OTAs, tour operators and other stakeholders for India in the changed scenario, Tan said that the Board organized the Tourism Industry Conference (TIC) as a collaborative platform for the industry to discuss strategies and opportunities. “This year, we aim to direct collective efforts under the overarching theme - "Gearing Up for Tourism Recovery". In India we kick-started our SingaporeReimagine recovery campaign in March with the SG Weekend in Chennai which included art and food experiences. STB has collaborated with Singapore Airlines and attraction partners to launch an exclusive campaign “Enjoy Your Family Times Now in Singapore” to attract more Indian families during the summer holiday season,” he informed.
On the unfolding scenario of business/corporate travel for Singapore, the CEO said that through the pandemic, Singapore has adopted strong protocols, embraced innovations and fostered creative partnerships to reinvent the MICE industry. “Incentive programs will continue to be important in this sector. As many corporates have deferred their overseas incentive trips, we see a strong resurgence of such trips in the coming year. We are actively engaging with stakeholders in India to bring group travels back to Singapore. Our incentive schemes – Business Events in Singapore [BEiS] offering funding support to large M&I groups for third party costs and INSPIRE offering smaller groups complimentary experiences – make Singapore a compelling option for M&I trips,” he added.
Speaking on the India market, Tan said: “India is and will continue to be an important source market for Singapore as it reached the third-highest spot in 2019, before the pandemic. “It is a major market, not just for leisure and MICE travel but also for cruise tourism. We remain confident in the long-term prospects of Singapore's tourism sectors – both for leisure and MICE and business travel – as the fundamentals that make Singapore an attractive place for unique, high-quality travel and MICE experiences remain unchanged. We are focussed on tapping key markets to revive our efforts while deepening our relationships across new markets in tier 2 and 3 cities across India,” he concluded.