STB to set up joint task force to combat 'biggest challenge since SARS'

Visitor arrivals could decline by 25 to 30 per cent and Singapore will lose an average of 18,000 to 20,000 international tourist arrivals daily.

Mandy How | Martino Tan | February 11, 2020, 10:30 AM

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has set up the Tourism Recovery Action Task Force (TRAC) to map out recovery strategies and plans for tourism in Singapore to face its biggest challenge since SARS in 2003, says STB Chief Executive Keith Tan.

Tan said: "There are still many many unknowns, but we estimate that visitor arrivals could decline by around 25 to 30 per cent this year."

Tan said that Singapore will lose an average of 18,000 to 20,000 international tourist arrivals to Singapore daily, and the estimate may change.

TRAC will comprise of tourism leaders from both the private and public sectors, and to coordinate recovery efforts.

Their work will include identifying opportunities arising from the novel coronavirus (nCoV) crisis, driving and implementing measures to instil confidence in Singapore's tourism establishments, as well as creating and initiating recovery plans.

Details of TRAC will be announced at a later date.

STB CEO: Singapore has strong tourism fundamentals, will rebound strongly from nCoV

Tan said that the tourism growth that Singapore has enjoyed over the past four years reflects Singapore's strong tourism fundamentals.

In 2019, Singapore saw growths in both visitor arrivals and tourism receipts for four consecutive years, despite global headwinds.

Visitor arrivals rose 3.3 per cent in 2019 to reach 19.1 million visitors, who spent a total of S$27.1 billion in tourism receipts, a marginal growth of 0.5 per cent.

With the support of the industry, and through the joint Taskforce, STB will continue to build Singapore tourism capabilities, transform Singapore's tourism business, and rebound strongly from nCoV, Tan said.

Visitor arrivals estimate will depend on three factors

STB CEO said that STB, however, must "prepare for a difficult year ahead", and that the estimate on visitor arrivals will depend on three main factors.

These include:

1) How long the situation in China will last and whether it has knock-on economic effects on the region;

2) How long the situation in Singapore, and other countries in the region, will last, and

3) How long it will take for traveller demand to return, i.e. how fast the recovery will be.

China top visitor arrivals in 2019

The nCoV situation will have an adverse impact on tourism in Singapore.

This is especially since China accounts for around 20 per cent of international visitor arrivals.

On Feb. 1, Singapore announced its entry ban to all visitors who have been to mainland China in the past 14 days.

China is Singapore's top market with 3,627,000 visitor arrivals, followed by Indonesia and India.