The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) recently won the ‘TripSavvy 2020 Editors’ Choice Award’ for Industry Leaders. This is an annual award that celebrates excellence in travel, tourism and hospitality.
The STB was commended for adaptability, innovation, and commitment to the tourism industry during these uncertain times. Important because, Singapore’s response to the pandemic can be a framework for other bigger tourism destinations in the world to emulate, experts say.
The STB worked with industry partners and launched the SingapoRediscovers campaign in July to encourage local rediscovery and support our local businesses. It ramped up other initiatives, such as the SG Clean and CruiseSafe certification programmes, to allow visitors to enjoy safe and new experiences with a peace of mind. According to the Board, travel and tourism will never be the same again, but it is ready to safely and gradually welcome visitors to the garden city again.
Reportedly, more than 50 years ago a two-stage plan which will transform Singapore into ‘a beautiful garden city with flowers and trees without waste and as neat and orderly as possible was initiated. And since then the city has deservedly earned its reputation as the world’s greenest. The novel four-tap water system provides diversified and sustainable natural water resources across the nation. In 2015, the city announced plans to become a Zero Waste Nation.
Apart from the eco-conscious and green initiatives, the Singapore Tourism Board’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes initiatives like the SG Clean campaign and CruiseSafe certification program that promote the health and safety of the city’s residents while also supporting the local tourism industry, offers a valuable framework that can be emulated, too.
Interestingly, the SG Clean quality mark, which is a part of the National Environment Agency’s SG Clean campaign, is given to businesses, organizations, and industries who have met standard hygiene and sanitation practices. The campaign was announced on Feb. 16, 2020, and swiftly initiated… just three weeks after Singapore saw its first case of COVID-19 on Jan. 23.
By Oct. 9, more than 25,000 businesses have been SG Clean-certified. Though the campaign was scheduled to end on June 30, 2021, STB’s efforts to maintain and promote cleanliness, safety, and public health did not stop then. The tourism board is now extending these ‘high standards’ to one other industry that has taken a significant hit since the start of the pandemic: cruises.
On Oct. 8, STB announced a CruiseSafe certification program, which sets forth strict health and safety regulations for cruise lines departing Singapore. These regulations include testing passengers for COVID-19 before boarding, reducing ship capacity and encouraging safe distancing between groups, and having a COVID-19 emergency plan in place.
Round-trip pilot cruises for this program were scheduled to begin sailing on Nov. 6; they will make no ports of call and are limited to 50 per cent capacity. Just two cruises, Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream and Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas will participate.
In partnership with Enterprise Singapore and Sentosa Development Corporation, STB announced a $45 million campaign in July to bolster the city’s tourism industry by curating itineraries, packages, and promotions for local businesses such as accommodations, attractions, restaurants, and tour operators. By the end of September, more than 130 businesses had signed up to participate in the program.
This December, the SingapoRediscovers Voucher scheme will kick off by giving each Singapore resident $100 in vouchers to spend on hotels, attractions, and tours. A complete list of merchants will be announced later this fall, but locals can expect experiences such as dining up in the air in a cable car, biking through Singapore’s offshore islands, and taking a sustainability tour at Gardens by the Bay. The tourism board is also planning to expand Orchard Road, known for its shopping malls bursting with department stores and boutique shops, to include more greenery and enhanced public spaces.
While the campaign supports local businesses, STB is thinking ahead about giving future international travellers the confidence to explore the city. Rachel Loh, STB’s Regional Director of the Americas said: “We are reviewing longer-term tourism strategies and plans to ensure that they are resilient and meaningful in the new COVID environment. This is why we will continue to forge ahead with major tourism infrastructure and redevelopment projects, tapping on new consumer trends coming out of the pandemic such as wellness, nature, and sustainable tourism.”
“Travel and tourism will never be the same again, but we believe that Singapore is well-positioned to meet the needs of the future traveller,” Loh added.