The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has launched a Sin$90 million BOOST (Building On Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism) initiative aimed at helping the tourism sector ride through these challenging times.
Commenting on the tough times ahead, Ms Aw Kah Peng, STB’s Chief Executive, said, “Singapore’s advantage is that we are entering this difficult period from a position of strength. Our past efforts have entrenched Singapore as a premier business city and one of Asia’s lifestyle and entertainment capitals, and our healthcare and education services sector is highly reputable. Building on this strong foundation, the Singapore Tourism Board is committed to working with tourism businesses to weather the economic downturn and ensure that the sector emerges from it stronger.”
STB’s Sin$90 million BOOST complements the Singapore government’s recently unveiled $20.5 billion Resilience Package, which contains measures that aim to save jobs and help viable companies stay afloat.
Tourism businesses in Singapore can tap on the broad-based schemes under the Resilience Package, as well as others that are directly relevant to the tourism sector. These include the enhanced Air Hub Development Fund by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, and the GEMS-Plus program just launched by SPRING Singapore, STB, the Workforce Development Agency, NTUC and Institute of Service Excellence at SMU.
There are six key thrusts to BOOST. It aims to boost demand in travel to Singapore, the government’s funding support to the sector, the sector’s capabilities, outreach to Singapore residents, partnership with the industry and the future of the sector.
Measures under BOOST include tactical marketing campaigns, as well as enhanced assistance schemes, developed in collaboration with tourism industry leaders and partners.
Destinations worldwide are riding on the same global trends which show that tourists prefer short-haul travel and destinations offering greater value, as consumers become more cost conscious. Singapore must therefore ensure it remains desirable and competitive as a destination to drive demand for travel into Singapore.
Capturing greater mindshare and growing market share are critical to boosting visitorship in 2009. To do so, STB has developed two campaigns targeting leisure, as well as business and MICE visitors this year.
“2009 Reasons to enjoy Singapore” is a global marketing campaign under which visitors can enjoy travel packages and promotions that offer quality and exciting experiences at value for money prices. To date, some promotions offering attractive airfare and hotel packages have already been confirmed and will be launched globally as part of the campaign on 19 February.
STB is currently working with more stakeholders including airlines such as Singapore Airlines, travel agents, travel portals such as Zuji, attractions and retailers to develop more offers. It also hopes to attract more partners throughout the year.
To do so, STB is offering a cost-sharing incentive under this campaign. Businesses can receive co-funding support for advertising and promotion, as well as leverage STB’s extensive global network to jointly market the deals. Meanwhile, consumers will stand to benefit from the attractive travel packages offered by STB and industry partners, comprising airfare, hotel, attractions and retail offers.
STB will place emphasis on four major regional markets – China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia – and one emerging market, Vietnam. Within these markets, key customer segments targeted include Free and Independent Travellers (FIT), group travellers and MICE visitors.
Given the large flow of stopover traffic at Changi Airport, STB will also focus on stopover travellers from Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom.
To create more buzz about Singapore, STB will leverage online media and viral marketing channels such as Facebook to launch attention-grabbing promotions under the “2009 Reasons to enjoy Singapore” campaign. “Fly on US” is the first major online promotion, and offers Sin$500,000 worth of free air tickets to Singapore, as well as Sin$10,000 cash to be won monthly. The campaign will be launched on 19 February 2009 and last till end-May 2009.
STB has also developed a MICE attendance building campaign to drive MICE visitorship in 2009 and grow Singapore’s market share within this segment.
Under this initiative, STB will work with key events to strengthen their programmes. These enhanced events will then be marketed to their respective target audience in key regional markets through joint promotional efforts.
To help companies alleviate their business costs, STB has enhanced its current assistance schemes and raised its funding support.
Through the enhanced BE in Singapore (BEIS) scheme, MICE companies can gain more cost savings, as STB is now defraying a higher proportion of events’ project costs and providing a greater scope of funding support.
STB has also provided a 50% reduction over last year’s participation fees for STB-led leisure and MICE tradeshows, and waived tourist guide and travel agent licence fees.
Singapore’s tourism sector is a sector that continues to see job growth, backed by the strong pipeline of tourism projects and the positive outlook of the sector beyond the mid-term.
12,000 tourism jobs are available this year in new hotels, the integrated resorts and tourism-related sectors. When the two integrated resorts are completed, 20,000 tourism jobs will be available.
Companies that wish to upgrade their employees’ skills can tap on Training Industry Professionals in Tourism (TIP-iT) In addition, the GEMS-Plus program will help inculcate service excellence as part of Singapore’s service culture through initiatives such as the Customer-Centric Initiative, a service quality accreditation scheme.
“Strengthening the competencies and service delivery of our workforce is key to ensuring the growth and competitiveness of Singapore as a destination, and is crucial to making tourism careers here more attractive. As companies review their current business models to adapt to the dynamic global situation, they will need to consider re-designing jobs so as to make these more appealing, rewarding and satisfying to existing and potential employees. In this way, businesses can help the sector become a choice employer,” said Ms Aw.
Many Singapore residents have embraced the transformation of Singapore’s tourism landscape as the city becomes a more exciting place to live. And they play an important role as Singapore’s tourism ambassadors.
Through local promotions under the campaign, STB aims to encourage local residents to also get out and enjoy Singapore’s tourism offerings and encourage more friends and family overseas to visit Singapore.
For a start, during the weekends in February, 2009 free tickets to selected Singapore attractions are up for grabs, and Singapore residents will be able to benefit from 7% GST savings at participating retailers. These promotions will be launched in local media today (12 February), with more to be revealed throughout the year.
BOOST Partnership and the Future
Beyond the launch of BOOST, STB has called for more industry players to participate in the BOOST initiatives, in particular the “2009 Reasons to enjoy Singapore” and MICE attendance building campaigns.
“Singapore’s success so far is a product of innovative ideas combined with close collaboration between the public and private sectors. The tourism sector needs fresh ideas from industry players and their added support to give it a boost during these challenging times. Beyond the downturn, our partnership will serve us well as we develop tourism offerings that will differentiate us from other destinations. If we can rally together, as we have done during previous crises, I am confident that we will grow as a sector, with all industry players standing to benefit,” said Ms Aw.
STB will be organising a series of seminars to create greater awareness of the Government wide schemes and initiatives available, and how industry members can have access to them.
With all these initiatives and others, STB is expecting 9 – 9.5 million in visitor arrivals and Sin$12 – Sin$12.5 billion in tourism receipts in 2009.