G.B Srithar, Regional Director, India, Middle East and South Asia, Singapore Tourism Board speaks about revival strategy and the latest developments.
Over the years, India has evolved as one of the major source markets for Singapore. The destination is now gearing up to welcome Indians with novel offerings, once international borders are open.
How do you see the travel and tourism industry in Singapore recovering from the pandemic? Has tourism been a major part of the Governments revival plans?
Singapore is a tourism and aviation hub and our Changi airport is one of the most important airports and we look to maintain as one of the top aviation hubs. Tourism is a major component for our economy. As we reopened one of our most important focus was safety of our residents. We are now in the third stage of our Singapore Transition. Under this the Government has reopened many segment interms of schools, MICE facilities, etc. Singapore has certified establishments which have maintained the safety standards and we are making sure to control the covid-19 spread. However, when it comes to borders reopening, we are very cautious and calibrated. As of now we are looking at how we can safely reopen, and it depends upon various factors. Tourism is important for us, but safety and security is the priority.
Any key recommendations by the cruise players which you would like to highlight from the Cruise World India 2021
The objective of the Cruise World India 2021 was to re-engage and connect. Theme was charting our pathway to cruise recovery. It was a platform to share ideas and thoughts for us to eventually open travel and then cruise. This is to prepare ourselves to restart the cruising segment efficiently. We are clear that as of now borders are not open. Purpose is to understand what the market needs. Singapore has opened cruise for locals and people 120,000 cruise holidays makers went on 90 sailings. Singapore now accounts One third cruising worldwide. Under cruise safe certifications we have great safety standards and protocols which cruise players need to adhere. Response was excellent and we had a lot of product updates and we had various polls during the discussion.
Earlier the major fly cruise Destinations in Asia for India market was Hong Kong and Singapore, with a lot of unfortunate challenges in Hong Kong, do we see a monopoly in 2022?
It is an evolving situation and a lot of things have changed and a lot depends on what countries will do to draw travellers. A lot of countries are going to look at how effectively and safely people open travel. I don’t think any single destination can monopolize. Consumers will be very picky and selective. Consumers will look at various factors like safety, ease of travel, vaccination requirements, insurance protocols, quarantine protocols, etc. Travellers may look at small family or couple travel and then destinations ill come into play. People will look at one destination, instead of country hopping. All destinations will put in place various measures to make sure that they are able to handle travellers. There will be some preferences that may emerge, it will be a different travel world that will come.
To give a boost to the domestic tourism segment, Singapore Tourism Board introduced SingapoRediscovers Vouchers (SRV), any similar plans for the international travellers as well?
The objective for the SRV was clear and we have for the first time championed domestic tourism. It ioss a new learning for us. Our objective was the travel and tourism fraternity and wanted to entice the locals to experience Singapore hotels, attractions. As we restart international markets there will be some conversations, but it is early to say on incentivization. There will be a confluence of things which we will look at. Currently we don’t have plans, but when we cautiously open our borders we will look at how we attract travellers. Now our focus is to reopen tourism safely. The domestic audience are keenly looking at the safety aspects of the products and attractions, similarly these will be the priority for international audience as well.
Singapore has over the years been a popular MICE destination as well, when do you see this segment bounce back? What is the future of MICE Tourism in Singapore?
In the MICE front we have come up with a few things, we have launched a framework and MICE is safe and intense. We want to retain our spot as one of the worlds credible and popular MICE destinations. India is a very important market for MICE travel to Singapore. We will look at how best to bring meetings and incentives from India. We will look at smaller groups first. We have a lot of incentives and inspire programme to attract MICE travellers. During the pandemic we have recalibrated the scheme and we are highly engaged during the pandemic. The general feedback is Indian corporates are ready to travel once travel restarts.
Any new trend which you foresee when tourism restarts? Any new attractions in Singapore?
Post pandemic there will be multilayered travel. Travellers will look to stay longer and immerse in the culture and would want to explore food and culinary. Travellers will go on more specific and purpose-driven tours.
In terms of new projects this year to support the tourism sector; we will launch Museum of Ice Cream Singapore which is expected to open in 2H 2021. It is the first international location and Asian flagship outlet that will feature multi-sensory installations around the theme of ice cream with sweet treats offered throughout the museum. Slingshot is slated to open in 2H 2021. Slingshot is an exhilarating thrill ride located in the heart of Singapore’s city centre. As “Asia’s tallest Slingshot”, visitors are catapulted almost 70m above the ground at top speeds of 160km/h. SkyHelix Sentosa is scheduled to open in 2022. It will be Singapore’s first open-air panoramic attraction that allows guests to have a drink as the rotating gondola ascends.