SINGAPORE (CNA) – The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) of Singapore will continue to support the tourism sector’s efforts to recover, innovate and “come back stronger than before”, said Minister of State Low Yen Ling yesterday.
Speaking at MTI’s Committee of Supply debate, Low announced a slew of measures targetted at the tourism, F&B and retail sectors, as well as heartland businesses.
For the tourism industry, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will accelerate the SingapoReimagine campaign as international travel resumes, she said.
STB is now working with a “wide range” of partners around the world like airlines, travel agents and media outlets, to attract more travellers to Singapore.
“COVID-19 has hit the tourism sector very hard, but despite the challenges, we have continued to quickly adapt and pivot to new propositions to come back even stronger,” she said in her speech.
The government will help tourism companies in developing attractive new products and experiences, said Low.
The SingapoRediscovers campaign is still ongoing, she added, noting that the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers scheme last year generated nearly SGD300 million in bookings and transactions and up to SGD100 million in ancillary spending.
Singapore will also “defend” its position as a leading destination for business and leisure events, said Low.
“We hit a pause button on these because of COVID-19, but STB is now gearing up to resume large-scale, and also high-quality business and leisure events from this year.”
For example, the Singapore Air Show in February saw about 13,000 trade attendees and almost 600 exhibitors from more than 39 countries, said Low.
Singapore will host more industry-leading events later this year, like the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix and the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, she added.
“These events will not only directly benefit the tourism sector but will also ensure that Singapore remains a top-of-mind destination.”
MTI will also continue to create innovative tech and digital solutions with the tourism sector, said the Minister of State.
STB’s Singapore Tourism Accelerator Programme supported 34 promising tech start-ups over the past three years in developing solutions to “future-proof” the tourism industry.
The ministry will also “double down” on efforts to up-skill the tourism sector workforce to ensure that workers are ready to meet changing job demands, said Low.
In the past two years, STB and Workforce Singapore (WSG) supported more than 140 tourism companies through career conversion programmes, helping more than 1,300 workers take on “redesigned and enhanced” roles, she added.
Low also announced plans to support heartland businesses, including support for them to go digital. Enterprise Singapore will launch a SGD50-million initiative called Our Heartlands 2025.
The four-year programme aims to help heartland businesses increase revenue, improve operational efficiency and expand their customer base.
“The shops in our heartlands form a central thread of Singapore’s social fabric and everyday lives. Many Singaporeans grew up with these mom-and-pop shops. They play an important role in our neighbourhood, providing convenience and affordable goods and services at our doorsteps, as well as jobs for Singaporeans near their homes,” Low said. “Our heartland spaces are also fertile ground for the birth and growth of many well-loved local enterprises.”
But these businesses are facing challenges with changing consumer behaviour and rising competition, she noted.
With the Heartlands Go Digital programme launched in October 2020, about 85 per cent or 14,500 heartland enterprises have adopted e-payment solutions as of February this year, said Low.
More than half are on digital channels and e-commerce platforms, and have set up business pages on Google.
“This progress is a great step forward for many of our mom-and-pop shops that were using only cash, and operating strictly as a brick-and-mortar shop just two years ago.”