Saving good companies and jobs key goals in new tourism campaign: STB

Chia Han Keong
·Editor
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SINGAPORE, July 6, 2020 -- Visitors wearing face masks feed a giraffe in the Singapore Zoo on July 6, 2020. The Singapore Zoo reopened to the public on Monday after the easing of lockdown measures in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.(Photo by Then Chih Wey/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)
Visitors wearing face masks feed a giraffe in the Singapore Zoo. (PHOTO: Then Chih Wey/Xinhua via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE —Keeping good companies afloat, protecting jobs and boosting key capabilities in the tourism sector are the main goals to be achieved through a new campaign, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Wednesday (22 July).

STB chief executive Keith Tan outlined these goals to the media at the launch of the largest ever campaign to drive local tourism demand called “SingapoRediscovers”.

During his speech at the Tourism Recovery Dialogue, Tan forecast more job losses in the coming months. He said that STB is working with Workforce Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore to create jobs, re-deploy workers and provide traineeships and training opportunities.

“We will also work with (the tourism industry) to identify key capabilities in the different tourism sectors that we must maintain – this is necessary in order to ensure that our sectors remain competitive and can emerge strongly when international travel resumes,” he added.

$45 million for SingapoRediscovers campaign

Through the “SingapoRediscovers” campaign, STB will help transform the industry to reimagine new ways for customers to experience tourism offerings and products, Tan added.

The nine-month campaign is aimed at targeting Singapore residents and encouraging them to “rediscover” Singapore via lifestyle and tourism activities.

The STB will partner Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) and Enterprise Singapore to offer tour experiences, packages and promotions for local residents.

The three agencies have set aside $45 million for the campaign and its supporting marketing initiatives. The campaign is the first since “Step Out Singapore” after the SARS outbreak in 2003, and BOOST (Building on Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism) in 2009 after the Global Financial Crisis.

With mass travel unlikely to resume soon due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, STB said tapping domestic demand is key to helping its tourism businesses recover.

“In 2018, Singaporeans spent more than $34 billion on overseas travel. The challenge for us is whether we can re-direct some of that spending towards our local tourism and lifestyle businesses,” said Tan.

“This will not be an easy task. Many Singaporeans are worried about retaining their jobs, while others are facing pay cuts. Spending on experiences may not be a priority at this point.

“Plus, it's not uncommon to hear Singaporeans say that there's nothing to do here, or that they've seen and done all that Singapore has to offer.”

Nonetheless, Tan believes Singaporeans are adventurous enough to seek and discover parts of Singapore which they have not explored, and the new campaign intends to leverage on such potential.

Tourism market likely to resume with high-end travellers: Chan

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said during Wednesday’s Tourism Recovery Dialogue that the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation has estimated the number of international tourists to decline by 78 per cent in 2020, when compared to 2019.

Meanwhile, a STB survey done in April found that only 33 per cent of travellers across 14 key markets felt confident to visit Singapore in the near future.

While reciprocal green lane arrangements have been made with China and Malaysia to resume business travels, Chan foresees that the tourism market will progressively resume, starting with high-end travellers.

“It will be a niche-market game, and not a mass-market game,” he said. “It is no longer sufficient just to have a product that is just for the tourists who are here with us.

“Chances are that we will have to develop an end-to-end suite of service, because for people to resume travel safely, they will need to be engaged prior to their travels... on the standards and precautions required – how would they move around, how would we ensure that they are safe and healthy, how do we provide after-sale services even after they leave Singapore.”

Chan added that, although retrenchment amid the tourism industry may be inevitable, the government will be making sure that as many of the existing workers as possible will be re-deployed and re-skilled, and be matched to new jobs available.

Three broad areas of focus for campaign

The “SingapoRediscovers” campaign stemmed from the Tourism Recovery Action Taskforce, which was set up in February in response to the severe setbacks experienced by the tourism industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It focuses on three broad areas: partnering local communities to help locals discover hidden gems; curating precinct itineraries; and collaborating with hotels, tour operators, attractions as well as precincts to develop value-for-money experiences and promotions.

Tourist precincts in Singapore will be packaged as mini-holiday destinations, where locals can embark on a “Singapoliday” to enjoy the many experiences and promotions within.

Chan said that, should this local tourism campaign succeed, it will in turn boost international tourism.

“One thing I’ve learnt from tourism industry practitioners is that nobody goes to another country to visit their tourist attractions; they go to another country to see what their people do,” he said.

“The challenge for (our attractions) is that if they can attract our people because they offer such enriching experiences, then by word of mouth, the experiences will travel to foreign visitors who will really want to understand more when they come to Singapore the next time.”

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