Singapore, February 1 (ANI): Last week, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) released numbers that highlighted the dramatic impact COVID-19 had on the tourism industry in the city-state.
The STB release showed that the number of Indian tourists to Singapore dropped dramatically. While during the pre-COVID year, 2019, 1.42 million Indian tourists visited Singapore which dropped to 54,000 in 2021. Singapore had only 330,000 international visitors in 2021, the lowest on record. It is less than two per cent of the 19.1 million tourists who came to its shores in 2019. The year 2020 was a better year with 2.7 million visitors but most arrived in the first two months of the year before COVID forced Singapore to close its borders, said Lee Kah Whye, in an article.
China, India, and Indonesia were the top three visitor source markets last year. Singapore saw 88,000 visitors from China, 54,000 from India, and 33,000 from Indonesia.
During the last pre-COVID year, 2019, the top three sources of visitors was similar. Singapore drew 3.64 million visitors from China, 3.08 million from Indonesia, with India rounding up the top three with 1.42 million visitors, wrote author Lee Kah Whye.
STB said that while the numbers in 2020 and 2021 represent only a fraction of Singapore’s tourism performance prior to the pandemic, it is encouraged by the signs of recovery. The last three quarters of 2021 saw year-on-year growth of 221 per cent in tourist arrivals compared with the same period in 2020.
That it managed to receive some visitors in 2021 was mainly due to Singapore’s gradual reopening as a result of the VTL (vaccinated travel lane) scheme which was launched in September last year, added Lee Kah Whye.
There was also a government grant to the tourism industry through Singapore Rediscover Vouchers (SRV) where each resident was given SGD 100 to spend on local attractions and experiences.
STB reported that by the end of the SRV scheme on 31 December 2021, there were about 2.6 million SRV-linked transactions amounting to almost SGD 300 million, out of which SGD 180 million were vouchers redemptions and SGD 120 million paid in cash.
To further boost the cruise industry, STB is planning for cruises to other Southeast Asian countries later in the year, said Lee Kah Whye.
STB is building up a strong pipeline of MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events this year. The most important of which is the Singapore Airshow in February. Other MICE events it is planning include Design Fair Asia 2022, Global Health Security Conference 2022, 60th International Young Lawyers’ Congress 2022, World One Health Congress 2022, and Seafood Expo 2022.
Also announced last week on Thursday (January 27) was the renewal of Singapore’s contract to host the Formula One Grand Prix for another seven years from this year to 2028.
The duration of the contract is the longest so far and STB explained in a statement that “This will give Singapore a longer runway to capture pent-up demand as international travel recovers. It also allows STB, Singapore GP and industry partners to develop new experiences to meet the evolving interests of locals and visitors.”
Singapore which hosted Formula One’s first-ever night race in 2008 cancelled the races in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the organisers are working with relevant government agencies and industry stakeholders to refine and implement appropriate protocols to ensure the safety of fans and participants for this year’s race.
There were 268,000 spectators over the three days of the 2019 event, but it is unlikely to attract the same number of fans at this year’s event even as Singapore is gradually relaxing its pandemic border restrictions, added Lee Kah Whye.
Although a pre-departure rapid antigen test and an on-arrival PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test are still required currently, since January 23, visitors only need to conduct self-tests from day 2 to 7 of their arrival if they plan to leave their accommodation. There is no requirement for supervised tests.
It is hoped that with the planned events and as border restrictions begin to lift, Singapore’s tourism sector will soon recover.
Keith Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said: “While it will take time for tourism numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels, we are encouraged by the resilience of our tourism businesses, and their commitment to preserve good jobs, transform their businesses and invest in new products and experiences. These efforts will strengthen Singapore’s appeal as we prepare to welcome more international visitors.”
“We must anticipate setbacks and challenges even as the tourism industry recovers slowly.
But I am confident that the tourism industry has learnt from its experiences and is poised to recapture demand when it returns.”