Primed for a strong return

Even as travel freezes, Sentosa Development Corporation’s CMO Lynette Ang has ensured the island remains top of mind among travellers and business partners.

How does tourism recovery look for you?
While some countries are starting to open up their economies, it is likely that travel restrictions will continue to be in place globally for some time to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

At Sentosa, we are heartened that Singapore residents have been our single largest market, even before the onset of Covid-19. Between April and November 2019, for instance, our local visitorship increased by about 23 per cent, compared to the same period in 2018. This is testament to the strong value proposition that Sentosa provides, not just for tourists, but also our domestic guests.

These figures are in line with Expedia’s 2018 Singapore Staycation Study, which found that Singaporeans are avid staycationers.

How did your marketing approach change during the period of restricted activities, known locally as the Circuit Breaker?
We collaborated with our Island Partners to roll out several free online offerings, such as the virtual Sentosa on Animal Crossing: New Horizons and other leisure experiences, to keep engaging guests at home.

We will continue to build on and deepen our guest engagement through our diverse range of unique leisure offerings. These efforts include continuing to refresh and rejuvenate our offerings, and working with our Island Partners (tenants) and others to prepare for a strong recovery through events and other novel initiatives.

As we look ahead beyond Covid-19, we will continue to engage both locals and tourists by leveraging on the assets of our one-of-a-kind resort island, including our golden beaches and array of novel leisure experiences, to keep guests of all ages coming back for more, day and night.

How do regional and longhaul markets factor in your mid- and long-term sales and marketing plans?
Being a leading leisure destination in Asia, our regional markets such as China, India and South-east Asia will continue to be key.

In recent years, we have also strengthened our efforts to engage our longhaul markets in Europe, the US and Australia, such as through tradeshows like ITB Berlin, IMEX, IBTM World and the World Travel Expo.

For longhaul markets, we also focus on MICE, and we anticipate that business travel could see an earlier recovery than leisure travel.

We will continue to monitor global developments, and resume activities with our regional and longhaul markets once it is appropriate to do so.

How is Sentosa Development Corp (SDC) preparing for the rebound?
As a unique island-in-a-city that offers an array of differentiated leisure and MICE experiences, we are unlike many other destinations. Therefore, we take a holistic view in attracting visitors with various interests and across ages.

Sentosa has laid a strong foundation through active engagement with our key markets over the years, enjoying strong annual visitorship of 19 million from markets including Singapore, China, India and South-east Asia.

SDC is also a one-stop solutions provider for novel MICE experiences in Sentosa, and has been working with DMCs, PCOs and other venue operators to increase awareness of our destination on an industry level, providing (these partners) with constant updates on (what’s on offer).

We also work closely with the Singapore Tourism Board through programmes such as the Singapore MICE Advantage Programme as well as the In Singapore Incentives & Rewards, aligning our approaches with efforts at a national level.

Despite the inability to meet our Island Partners and travel agent partners face-to-face (during the lockdown), we have (maintained contact with) them regularly through platforms such as webinars, ensuring that we keep these relationships warm.

We have also been working with our partners and stakeholders on a strong marketing and promotional plan (that will) bring visitors back to the island once we are able to.

To position Sentosa for a strong recovery, SDC has been actively strengthening the resilience of our Island Partners, (such as by) offering rental support…and providing operational assistance.

What new processes have been put in place to ensure the island experience is safe for visitors?
The safety and well-being of our guests are always of utmost importance to us. Since early this year, SDC has put in place precautionary measures such as increased cleaning frequency of our common and high-touch areas, safe distancing in queues, and temperature screening, among various other measures.

The majority of our Island Partners have also been certified with the SG Clean quality mark, representing a commitment to uphold good sanitation and hygiene practices.

As Singapore reopens safely, we will continue to ensure the safety and well-being of our guests by aligning with prevailing Covid-19 measures set by Singapore’s Multi-Ministry Taskforce. These include safe distancing, temperature taking (and) contact tracing (using) technologies such as the national SafeEntry system.

New processes may also be in place in certain areas, such as in managing crowds on the island. For example, guests may have to pre-book their date and time slots for certain activities, considering capacity reductions.

Such processes will enable guests to plan ahead and enjoy these experiences in a safe and comfortable way.

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