Singapore industry set for restructure

THE SINGAPORE Tourism Board (STB) foresees a restructuring of the industry – not least the travel agency sector – as the destination continues to evolve and attract higher-spending visitors with greater expectations.

Tourism receipts shot up nearly 50 per cent last year to an estimated S$18.8 billion (US$14.7 billion), while arrivals rose about 20 per cent to 11.6 million.

Giving an example of how a changing product is altering the existing industry landscape, STB’s chief executive Aw Kah Peng pointed to the two gaming cruiseships that stopped operation last year as a result of new gaming options in the city (TTG Asia e-Daily, January 13, 2010).

“There was a drop in the number of ship calls as some of the cruises that focused on gaming found it was not worth their while to do these cruises. Hotels too are looking at what is being offered and reshaping and investing to change the nature of their product offering,” she said, during a media conference Q&A this morning on 2010 tourism sector performance.

Asked what sort of restructure she sees happening in the travel agency sector, Aw said: “Demand for travel agents remains. As we can see, last year saw a nett increase in the number of agencies. The question remains how are they going to service the customer whose demands have changed. It’s no longer about a package tour, so many agents are rethinking itineraries, training issues, and so on.”

Last year saw 120 new licensed agencies and 85 agency closures, resulting in a nett increase to 975 agencies in total. STB’s assistant chief executive, Industry Development 1 Group and Sector Planning & Development Group, Tony Lai, said he noticed a change in new agencies in that they were led by “young entrepreneurs” and many were web-driven, with more than half having a retail front at the same time.

– Read more in TTG Asia, February 25 issue

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