Singapore’s tourism sector gets fresh boost

To further support tourism businesses during the circuit breaker and to give them a headstart for recovery, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has rolled out several new initiatives, including aid to ease cash flow concerns for travel agents.

The new relief measures complement the government’s allocation of more than S$60 billion (US$43 billion) to tide businesses and individuals through the pandemic.

Singapore Tourism Board rolls out initiatives to provide further relief to tourism businesses and workers

As part of the efforts, STB has launched a S$20 million Marketing Partnership Programme to help tourism businesses maintain their international presence, and build demand for when the market recovers.

Under the programme, STB will support part of the marketing costs, and award additional funding boosters to companies that collaborate with other tourism stakeholders to create value-added experiences.

Following the launch of Phase 1 of the programme for hotels on April 1, 2020, STB will be increasing support from 50 per cent to 70 per cent of qualified marketing costs, and will extend the programme to attractions, inbound travel agents, and the corporate sector in Phase 2. Applications for Phase 2 will open in early May, and interested applicants can email MPP@stb.gov.sg.

In addition, STB has launched the SG Stories Content Fund to encourage and support local and international content creators to create compelling stories of strength, resilience, solidarity and unity in Singapore.

The S$2 million fund for digital video content will cover the costs of creative development and conceptualisation, production and execution, as well as marketing and distribution. The fund will support 90 per cent of qualifying costs, capped at S$150,000 per project.

This complements funding support from the National Arts Council and the Infocomm Media Development Authority, as part of STB’s overall collective efforts to support the creative community.

Applications will open from May 1 to 31, 2020. All filming activities must adhere to prevailing safe distancing measures, said STB. As such, during the current circuit breaker period, all outdoor filming is prohibited and all content must be produced from home, it added.

In light of how Covid-19 is changing consumer behaviour and will have a lasting impact on travel, STB has developed a set of tools under a three-step framework to accelerate the tourism sector’s digital transformation.

Firstly, to help businesses understand their current state of transformation, STB will be launching the Tourism Transformation Index in 2Q2020. It is a self-diagnostic tool for companies to assess their strengths, identify areas of opportunity and provide recommendations on next steps to take in their digital transformation journey. Companies can indicate their interest to participate at go.gov.sg/interest4txi.

Secondly, STB will open the Three House, a dedicated innovation space located on STB’s premises for companies to collaborate and test new ideas and solutions. More details will be announced at a later date.

Lastly, STB has created a suite of smart services that allow businesses to tap shared data and content to drive innovation and guide their business decisions.

This includes the Singapore Tourism Analytics Network, or Stan, which is being made available to the industry for the first time. Through Stan, industry stakeholders can access updated tourism statistics, and exchange data, to plan for recovery. More information can be found at stan.stb.gov.sg/portal.

Furthermore, to help affected businesses rethink their strategies and prepare for recovery, STB Marketing College – a learning and development programme tailored for travel and tourism marketers – has partnered key digital players such as Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to develop web-based training for the tourism industry.

Facebook Singapore, for example, has produced a webinar series that targets businesses in the travel, hospitality, retail, and corporate sectors. In this series, experts will share business insights and best practices to engage customers and help businesses adapt during these challenging times. The first episode will be streamed on April 30, 2020. To register for the free sessions, visit digitalupskillingsg.splashthat.com.

STB is also supporting Google and UOB in their redesign of the SME Leadership Academy programme to focus on SMEs in retail and tourism. The online programme will cover topics including digital marketing, online collaboration tools to support remote working and overseas market expansion efforts. More information can be found at leadershipacademy.withgoogle.com.

In addition, STB will partner LinkedIn to develop another online training programme, with more details to be announced at a later date.

As well, STB will be rolling out additional assistance for travel agents, who have seen a significant drop in the volume of sales and bookings since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.

In order to free up cash flow during this period, STB has reviewed the legislative framework to identify areas where the cost of regulatory compliance could be reduced, following careful assessment that the risk to consumers is significantly lower during this period.

As such, the minimum financial requirement for travel agents will be reduced by 90 per cent from April 8, 2020 to December 31, 2020. All travel agents may also submit auditor-certified accounts in lieu of audited statement of accounts for the financial year ending on or after March 1, 2020.

STB CEO Keith Tan said: “The Government has set aside more than S$60 billion to help businesses and Singaporeans through Covid-19, and STB’s additional measures aim to complement that. This is the toughest period that Singapore tourism has ever faced, but we will stand together with the industry to get through this, and prepare for the eventual recovery.”

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