The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced full details of BOOST (Building On Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism) – its S$90 million (about HK$460 millions or over US$59 million) initiative aimed at helping the tourism sector ride through the challenging times at its Tourism Industry Conference. STB also shared its forecast for the sector in 2009; 9 – 9.5 million in visitor arrivals and S$12 – S$12.5 billion (about HK$61.3 – HK$63.9 billion) in tourism receipts. This initiative will enhance the service standard of travel industry in Singapore and also strengthen its travel competitiveness in a long run.
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.
BOOST Demand – Driving visitorship to Singapore
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 boost visitorship in 2009. To do so, STB has developed the “2009 Reasons to enjoy Singapore” campaign targeting leisure, as well as business and MICE visitors this year. Visitors can enjoy their “Uniquely Singapore” experience through different promotional packages and attractive offers.
To promote leisure travel, STB has levered 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” on www.visitsingapore.com/2009reasons is the first major online promotion that offers many more chances for overseas participants to win free air tickets to Singapore, as well as monthly cash prize of S$10,000. This campaign was launched on February 19, 2009 and will run until May 31, 2009. Participants simply log onto www.visitsingapore.com/flyonus to invite their friends and family onboard the virtual Uniquely Singapore flight. Every qualified 2,009th name will automatically win a pair of return air tickets to Singapore. Nominating participants also stand to walk away with monthly cash prizes of S$10,000 in March, April, and May 2009 to be spent in Singapore.
The first and second winners of the Fly on US online promotion have already been announced in early March. And one of the lucky winners is Mr. Shi Jianghao from Hong Kong.
Mr. Shi is a frequent traveler of Singapore and, like all other visitors, loves the local food and scenic view in Singapore. He felt very excited and surprised to have won a pair of free tickets to Singapore. And he already planned to redeem the tickets this summer and spend the summer holiday with his wife there.
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 programs. These enhanced events will then be marketed to their respective target audience in key regional markets through joint promotional efforts.
BOOST Funding – increased funding support for businesses
To help companies alleviate their business costs, STB has enhanced its current assistance schemes and raised its funding support. STB has also provided a 50 percent reduction over last year’s participation fees for STB-led leisure and MICE tradeshows, and waived tourist guide and travel agent license fees.
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 for editions taking place no later than February 28, 2012.
BOOST Capabilities – grow and improve tourism jobs
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. Twelve-thousand 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) Plus for added funding support. 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 the 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 Kah Peng, STB’s chief executive.
BOOST US – Singapore residents to be “tourism ambassadors”
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 percent GST savings at participating retailers. These promotions will be launched in local media on February 12, with more to be revealed throughout the year.
BOOST Partnership and the Future – work together to build a stronger sector
Beyond the launch of BOOST, STB 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.