Singapore’s inbound tourism market could take up to five years to recover from the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, said on Thursday the chief executive of Singapore Tourism Board (STB) during an online discussion panel.
“It will take many years, possibly three… to five years for… international visitor arrivals to return to 2019 pre-Covid-19 levels,” said Keith Tan, as cited by local media.
The city-state’s two casino complexes, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, have already flagged the fact that their hotel facilities are currently being marketed to domestic customers, in the absence of foreign visitors.
Education minister Lawrence Wong Shyun Tsai, who co-chairs the governmental task force tackling Covid-19, said on Wednesday that Singapore might move soon to phase three of the exit from the country’s so-called “circuit breaker” measures to counter the pandemic. The third phase is known as “safe nation”, but also as a “new normal,” until, in the words of the authorities, “an effective vaccine or treatment for Covid-19 is developed”.
Under phase three, gathering sizes would still be limited, and masks would still be needed for using public transport, according to the government’s main website.
This stage would also involve Singapore “gradually” reopening its borders, “for Singaporeans to conduct essential activities overseas and to allow safe travel for foreigners entering or transiting through Singapore”. But for now, the city-state is mostly closed to foreign visitors.
According to STB data for the calendar year to July 31, visitor arrivals fell to 2.7 million, down 76 percent year-on-year. In 2019, the tally of visitors was 19.1 million, up 3.3 percent year-on-year.
STB’s Mr Tan hinted that the recovery might involve smaller numbers of high-value tourists.
“We need to be prepared for travellers who are looking for more exclusive, smaller-scale or special experiences that are hard to find elsewhere, because we believe that in the years after Covid-19, people will not be travelling so frequently,” he told the discussion panel.
The tourism boss reiterated that the government would in the meantime do its best to help the country’s industry, via steps including boosting domestic demand for such services.
As of 12 noon on Thursday, Singapore had 294 active cases of Covid-19, according to the Ministry of Health. As of that date, the country had 57,333 discharged cases, and had recorded 27 deaths.
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