To further support tourism businesses during the circuit breaker and to give them a headstart for recovery, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has rolled out several new initiatives to help them engage their customers, strengthen their business foundations and deepen their manpower capabilities. For travel agents, there is extra help to ease cash-flow concerns.
Funding to engage customers and maintain mindshare
With global air travel and tourism at a standstill during COVID-19, it is essential for tourism businesses to maintain their international presence, and build demand for when the market recovers. To help businesses do so, STB has launched a $20 million Marketing Partnership Programme.
Under the programme, STB will support part of the marketing costs, and award additional funding boosters to companies that collaborate with other tourism stakeholders to create experiences that add greater value to visitors.
Tools to accelerate digital transformation
COVID-19 is changing consumer behaviour and will have a lasting impact on travel. To build resilience, STB has developed a set of tools under a three-step framework to accelerate the tourism sector’s digital transformation:
1. Learn – To help businesses understand their current state of transformation, STB will be launching the Tourism Transformation Index (TXI) in the second quarter of 2020. It is a self-diagnostic tool for companies to assess their strengths, identify areas of opportunity and provide recommendations on next steps to take in their digital transformation journey.
2. Test – STB will open the ThreeHouse, a dedicated innovation space located on STB’s premises for companies to collaborate and test new ideas and solutions. More details will be announced at a later date.
Build – STB has created a suite of smart services that allow businesses to tap shared data and content – to drive innovation and guide their business decisions. This includes the Singapore Tourism Analytics Network, or Stan, which is being made available to the industry for the first time. Through Stan, industry stakeholders can access updated tourism statistics, and exchange data – all of which will prove useful as they start to plan for recovery.
Online training for tourism sector to upskill workers
To help affected businesses rethink their strategies and prepare for recovery, STB Marketing College has partnered key digital players such as Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to develop web-based training for the tourism industry.
Facebook Singapore, for example, has produced a webinar series that targets businesses in the travel, hospitality, retail, and BTMICE sectors. In this series, experts will share business insights and best practices to engage customers and help businesses adapt during these challenging times. The first episode will be streamed on 30 April 2020.
STB is also supporting Google and UOB in their redesign of the SME Leadership Academy programme to focus on small-and-medium enterprises in retail and tourism. The online programme will cover topics including digital marketing, online collaboration tools to support remote working and overseas market expansion efforts.
Additional assistance for travel agents
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, travel agents have seen a significant drop in the volume of sales and bookings. In order to free up crucial cash-flow during this challenging period, STB has reviewed the legislative framework to identify areas where the cost of regulatory compliance could be reduced. This was done after careful assessment that the risk to consumers is significantly lower during this period.
The minimum financial requirement for travel agents will be reduced by 90 per cent, from 8 April 2020 to 31 December 2020. All travel agents may also submit auditor-certified accounts in lieu of audited statement of accounts for the financial year ending on or after 1 March 2020.
Mr Keith Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board, said: “The Government has set aside more than $60 billion to help businesses and Singaporeans through COVID-19, and STB’s additional measures aim to complement that.”
“This is the toughest period that Singapore tourism has ever faced, but we will stand together with the industry to get through this, and prepare for the eventual recovery,” he concluded.