Hoteliers in Singapore have heaved a sigh of relief at the government’s commitment to continue providing Job Support Scheme (JSS) assistance to the beleaguered tourism industry this year, saying that the monetary support for salaries and training will allow the hotel industry to direct their attention to recovery strategies.
Kwee Wei-Lin, president of the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA), noted that the “government’s expeditious support through a series of budget provisions in 2020 (had allowed member hotels) to protect hotel jobs and keep our members afloat despite the global crisis”.
SHA represents 160 member hotels across the city-state, which altogether employs an essential workforce of 40,000 colleagues.
“With sustained border closures, global tourism remains depressed for the immediate future. SHA is appreciative that the government recognises the sustained threat to our hard-hit industry. The extension of JSS, SGUnited Jobs & Skills Package and Wage Credit Scheme will help to mitigate job losses while members concentrate on ensuring the survival of Singapore’s hotel industry and prepare for the return of international travellers when borders finally reopen,” said Kwee.
She expressed that although Singapore “has set the gold standard for managing the pandemic”, the future of tourism remains uncertain as international travel restrictions remain and key source markets continue to struggle with Covid-19 containment.
“Without international tourism, Singapore’s hotels remain in critical condition since local demand for staycations will not be sufficient to alleviate financial challenges in the months ahead,” she said.
Echoing voices of appreciation from hoteliers, Mike Williamson, general manager, Conrad Centennial Singapore, said the government’s support over the past year has been instrumental in pulling the industry through the “challenging period”.
“It is through this foresight that we will be in a better position for recovery in the near future,” he remarked.
Roy Liang, regional general manager, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam with Oakwood, opined that the extended JSS will help businesses retain their workforce without needing excessive measures to keep the business afloat and allow companies to divert resources to operations.
“The wage support will help to boost employees’ morale in these challenging times,” Liang added.
Eric Piatti, general manager of Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore, told TTG Asia: “With the six-month extension of the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), it will not only allow us to continue providing our employees with job security, but also sustain a certain service level and help maintain our readiness for the recovery.”
Hoteliers appear to be heeding the government’s call for affected industry sectors to emerge stronger from the crisis through restructuring.
Choe Peng Sum, CEO of Pan Pacific Hotels Group (PHHG), said the company will maintain its focus on workforce transformation by rethinking traditional roles and structure – an exercise that commenced last year. Job redesign and clustering arrangements, supported by training, reskilling and upskilling of workforce.
“We will also focus on digital and technology innovation to expand our capabilities in e-commerce and online offerings. We have already introduced online food order and delivery last year for our 18 (F&B) outlets in Singapore, which has become a stable revenue source. This year, we will launch an e-shop to cater to the increasing demand for online purchases. Beyond this, we will advance our capabilities in hybrid meetings and events to provide strong viable options and solutions for corporate clients and wedding guests,” Choe detailed in an interview.
The Singapore-headquartered PPHG has also digitalised customer touch points at three of its properties here in 2020. Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay, Pan Pacific Singapore and Parkroyal on Beach Road now sport a digital concierge. The same will be introduced to PPHG’s five remaining hotels and serviced suites in Singapore this year.
“Additionally, we will be growing our technology capabilities to incorporate keyless check-ins and other contactless solutions for our guests,” he added.
Kwee shared that SHA members’ growth and recovery strategy will focus on generating incremental revenue streams and growing domestic demand for hotels in other ways.
“For example, to increase the capacity for weddings and work-related events when it is safe to do so, along with more social events such as birthday celebrations, all with adherence to safe management measures, to stimulate business for hotels. Grants for job redesign and upskilling of the hotel workforce will facilitate our industry’s transformation for the post-pandemic era,” she said.