Singapore is experiencing the worst hit to its tourism industry ever since the events of SARS according to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). Over the past few months, countries around the globe have imposed travel restrictions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. This has caused Singapore to experience the steepest drop in visitor arrivals in recent years.
From this year alone, the visitor arrivals in March 2020 has fallen by more than 90% compared to January 2020. This is a stark contrast from the previous years where a steady increase in tourist arrivals can be observed.
As a result of an overall decrease in human traffic and business, severe economic disruptions have been made in multiple industries in Singapore – with the tourism industry being hit the hardest. This has caused multiple businesses in travel-related industries to apply cost-cutting measures.
Ms Lee was recently retrenched by her company. Ms Lee, a former Director of Field Sales Training at the Hyatt Hotels and Resorts (Asia Pacific), shared, “I was 1 of the 1300 employees from the corporate global offices that was eliminated. As a long service employee being severed during a global economic crisis, it is inevitable that there were initial feelings of dejection, betrayal and fear.”
Likewise, Ms Ava Ang, a country manager at the Western Australia Board (Singapore/Malaysia), also suffered the negative effects that the pandemic brought to the industry.
“Many advertising activities and campaigns which were due to launch had to be delayed. We had to cancel all events and familiarization trips, and we had to perform an audit of what had been spent and how much budget remained to know where we were,” said Ms Ang.
The Singapore government thus came up with several schemes to help businesses and individuals.
“The automatic grants for all Singaporeans are appreciated but do not offer much relief due to their minimal amount. Unfortunately, I am one of the many Singaporeans who fall between the cracks and do not qualify for the grants with larger relief amounts,” said Ms Lee.
However, as Singapore embarks on its three-phase recovery plan, the tourism industry is starting to see signs of change. According to National Development Minister Mr Lawrence Wong, discussions with other countries on lifting the curbs on essential trips are already in the process.
Ms Ang said, “As the months pass, we are going into normalcy and have started seeing signs that the light is at the end of the tunnel with news of government to government discussions on borders reopening and reinstating of selected flights routes. As such, we have been spending the last few months evaluating our plans in order to put us in a position to relaunch when the lights turn green.”
As for Ms Lee who is currently resting at home, she remains optimistic about the tourism sector in the long term.
“This industry, like any other industry, has its up and down cycles and in addition, it gets directly hit by the domino effects of the global economy. It will bounce back, but this time, it will just take longer than usual,” said Ms Lee.
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