S$20m bid to pull tourism out of doldrums

S$20m bid to pull tourism out of doldrums
TODAY file photo
Global campaign to be launched in key markets to coincide with Great S’pore Sale
Published: 10:29 AM, April 7, 2015
Updated: 6:26 AM, April 8, 2015
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SINGAPORE — In a bid to revive the floundering tourism sector, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will be embarking on a slew of initiatives, including a S$20 million global marketing campaign leveraging on the Republic’s Golden Jubilee year.

The campaign will be launched next month in key markets such as China, India, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia to coincide with the Great Singapore Sale. Visitor arrivals for the first two months of the year fell by about 5 per cent to 2.4 million, compared to the same period last year. The fall came on the heels of a dismal 2014 for the tourism sector, which saw arrivals fall 3.1 per cent — the first decline since 2009 — and spending remaining flat compared to the previous year.

Still, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) forecasts visitor arrivals to grow by up to 3 per cent this year, and tourism receipts by as much as 2 per cent. Last month, Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran told Parliament that about 15.1 million to 15.5 million visitors, and tourism receipts of between S$23.5 billion and S$24 billion, are expected this year — well short of the 17 million and S$30 billion targets set a decade ago.

But speaking at the Tourism Industry Conference today (April 7), Mr Iswaran said there were reasons to be optimistic about the near to mid-term prospects. “Outbound travel to the Asia-Pacific is expected to continue to grow, so too intra-Asia travel as Asian economies and disposable incomes rise. We must be ready to seize our share of this growth,” he said.

The tourism sector is a key part of the Singapore economy, contributing 4 per cent to the gross domestic product and supporting about 160,000 jobs. Challenges include an uncertain global economic outlook, intensifying regional competition and a relatively strong Singapore dollar.

The Jubilee marketing campaign will offer consumers shopping, dining, flight and hotel deals. So far, more than 20 hotels have indicated interest in offering promotions such as a complimentary third night’s stay for guests. Just last week, STB and the Changi Airport Group also announced a joint investment of

S$35 million over two years in a marketing blitz to boost visitor numbers.

These recent marketing efforts were the most aggressive in the last four years. Between 2011 and last year, the STB launched seven market-specific campaigns.

STB assistant chief executive Lynette Pang said: “The last campaign we had on top of (market-specific) campaigns was some years back, called BOOST. The difference is this year is a celebratory year, and we did intend to come out with a strong note of celebration.” The S$90 million BOOST campaign was rolled out in 2009, after tourism worldwide was hit by the global financial crisis.

Tourism experts felt that while these campaigns have achieved results, more needs to be done to boost tourism in the long term. They suggested a major rebranding exercise such as the YourSingapore and Uniquely Singapore campaigns, which were launched in 2010 and 2004, respectively. Citing the Integrated Resorts and the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the experts added that more game changers are also necessary.

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