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STB’s new task force: targeting a strong recovery

Tourism industry is ‘better prepared and more resilient’ to bounce back, backed by healthy pipeline of business events

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Singapore's task force will map out recovery strategies and plans.

SINGAPORE - Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has announced that it will form a Tourism Recovery Action Task Force to lead the tourism industry towards "a strong recovery" backed by a healthy pipeline of business events.

The board expects that tourism arrivals and receipts this year will take a "significant hit" as a result of the ongoing nCoV crisis, shaving off some 25 to 30% of international visitor arrivals.

The virus outbreak in recent weeks has impacted visitor arrivals to Singapore, especially from China, which accounts for about 20% of the country's total arrivals. Arrivals from other key source markets are also expected to fall due to "lower travel confidence globally", STB predicted.

STB's chief executive, Mr Keith Tan, acknowledged that "Singapore's tourism sector is facing its biggest challenge since SARS in 2003.

"But unlike SARS, we are now better prepared and more resilient. Our destination remains attractive, we have a strong pipeline of tourism products, and our market portfolio is diverse," he added.

This includes a line-up of key business events this year and beyond such as gamescom asia 2020, the Asia Pacific Life Insurance Congress and the Million Dollar Round Table Global Conference in 2021, and the World Congress of Dermatology 2023.

A new task force will be formed to map out recovery strategies and plans for the growth of tourism. Comprising tourism leaders from private and public sectors, the task force will implement measures to instil confidence in Singapore's tourism establishments and initiating recovery plans. More details will be revealed at a later date.

The current crisis comes in the wake of a fourth consecutive record year for Singapore tourism. In 2019, visitor arrivals rose 3.3 per cent to notch 19.1 million visitors and some S$27.1 billion in tourism receipts, which grew by a marginal 0.5 per cent.

Eleven out of Singapore's top 15 source markets expanded, including record high arrivals in markets such as China, Indonesia, Australia, Philippines, US, South Korea, UK, Vietnam and Germany.

"The growth that we have enjoyed over the past four years reflects our strong tourism fundamentals," commented Mr Tan.

The industry, however, faces the task of improving from its mixed performance for business travel and MICE. From January to September 2019, tourism receipts for this sector fell by 7 per cent to reach S$3.2 billion, in tandem with the 8 per cent decline in arrivals to 1.8 million visitors.