Baffled with HSR Cancellation, Singapore’s Travel Sector Works Towards Recovery
Despite aggressively planning game-changing initiatives to boost tourism, Singapore’s travel sector is estimating slow recovery in 2021. For a country that welcomed over 19 million international tourists in 2019, the reduction in tourist arrivals have trickled the country’s tourism board beyond measures.
Singapore’s domestic tourism sector has also been baffled with the pandemic. The cancellation of High-Speed Rail (HSR) agreement between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore government has shattered the hopes of thousands of travellers who were hoping for an easy commute route in the years to come. As per sources, the now cancelled grand plan was supposed to cut travel time between Singapore and Malaysia from four hours’ car drive to just 90 minutes via high-speed rail.
Although the cancellation has disappointed some travellers in Singapore, it has received appreciation from Malaysian tour and travel agents. As per them, the HSR would have negatively impacted the importance of Malaysian airports by reducing their position to mere feeder providers. The HSR also concerned the authorities at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport as hiked business travel at Singapore would draw more airlines to shift their services to Singapore’s Changi Airport. This would have benefitted Singapore’s travel sector as more tourist arrivals would have generated a lot of revenue in the hospitality sector. With the HSR cancelled, clearly the country has lost an opportunity for revival.
Although surrounded by multiple challenges, Singapore’s travel sector is consistently working to improve future travelling experiences for both international and domestic tourists. Many travel-related businesses have started using advanced technology and are working to incorporate digitization even in existing firms.
For supporting travel businesses, the Singapore Tourism Board has launched the Learn Test Build framework in May 2020. Also, the board is organising workshops and networking sessions (with Tourism Recovery Action Task Force) for industry partners to share their knowledge on the available digital solutions that can benefit the industry.
Aiming to channel some of its unused international travel budgets to uplift businesses involved in domestic tourism, the country is promoting voucher schemes like SingaporeRediscovers. Under this campaign, all Singaporeans aged 18 and above are given $100 each for spending on attractions, hotels and tours that can be redeemed until June 30.
At the forefront of international travel, the country is planning to create a special travel lane as a part of the Connect@Changi facility that will enable quarantine-free visits for business officials and high-economic value travellers. With this ‘bubble’ facility, visitors will be able to meet Singapore residents with floor-to ceiling dividers separating them.
Since the country doesn’t have much scope in the domestic tourism market, unlike China and India, it is speeding domestic recovery to build confidence among Singaporeans that they can act as advocates for overseas visitors. Sounds like a great scheme to lure more travellers to Singapore’s travel sector!