SG government and STB form tourism task force as part of recovery plan

The Singapore government will be jointly forming a public-private sector Tourism Recovery Action Task Force with Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to lay out the plans for recovery and future growth, amidst the expected hit on tourism arrivals and receipts due to the coronavirus situation. According to a media statement, the Tourism Recovery Action Task Force, or TRAC, will map out recovery strategies and plans for tourism in Singapore.

The task force will comprise tourism leaders from both the private and public sectors, to leverage the strengths of both sectors and to coordinate recovery efforts. The task force will also work on identifying opportunities arising from the novel coronavirus crisis, driving and implementing measures to instill confidence in Singapore’s tourism establishments, as well as co-creating and initiating recovery plans.

Meanwhile, STB said that Singapore’s tourism sector is aiming for a strong recovery on the back of four years of consecutive growth, a compelling pipeline of tourism investments, and efforts to build new capabilities. According to STB, the novel coronavirus has had a significant impact on visitor arrivals, particularly from China, which accounts for around 20% of international visitor arrivals. The tourism body said that visitor arrivals from STB’s other key source markets are also expected to fall due to lower travel confidence globally. Based on the current situation, the STB expects visitor arrivals this year to fall by about 25 to 30%.

Keith Tan, chief executive of STB said 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.

Tan explained that with the support of the industry and through the joint taskforce, STB looks to build its capabilities, transform its tourism businesses, and rebound from the novel coronavirus. This comes shortly after STB unveiled measures to waive license fees for hotels, travel agents and tourist guides, and to defray cleaning costs for hotels with suspected and confirmed cases of novel coronavirus. The tourism body also said it will cover up to 50% of third-party professional cleaning fees, capped at SG$20,000 per establishment for hotels with confirmed cases; and SG$10,000 per establishment for hotels with suspected cases.

In a bid to minimise the risk of community spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, Singapore banned new visitors of any nationality who recently travelled to mainland China within the last 14 days. Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said the initial economic impact of the outbreak has been felt most intensely by the transport and tourism sectors, with a decline in air traffic through Changi and an increase in hotel room cancellations.

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