Chan Chun Sing: International travel will not likely return to pre-Covid levels anytime soon

Recovery would lie with how Singapore is prepared to reinvent global travel in the long run.

Lean Jinghui | April 07, 2021, 07:15 PM

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Speaking at the Tourism Industry Conference (TIC), Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said that recovery remains uncertain for the tourism sector, which has been heavily impacted by an extended Covid-19 pandemic.

Said Chan, "Our immediate challenge is that even with the global rollout of vaccines, international travel will not likely return to pre-Covid levels any time soon."

The road to recovery ahead thus lies not within this year or even the next, but with how Singapore is prepared for long-term success and reinventing global travel, added Chan.

Reinventing global travel

Two key shifts would be necessary to capture new tourism opportunities in the long run – a focus on sustainability and leveraging on shifts in technology.


Chan cited the recently announced Singapore Green Plan 2030, which aims to develop Singapore into a top sustainable and innovative urban destination, as one way to capitalise on opportunities in sustainability.

According to Chan, even though Singapore was land-scarce and lacked natural landscapes compared to other eco-destinations, the country’s value proposition came from “the intangibles".

These include a progressive and transparent regulatory environment, strong protection of intellectual property, and a vibrant public and private ecosystem.

Leveraging on shifts in technology

Additionally, with digitalisation and technology already disrupting the industry pre Covid-19, Singapore should continue to push the boundaries of remote working and experiences.

Travel would no longer be just about meetings or sightseeing, but experiences, from pre-arrival to post-departure.

Chan said, "The next part of growth for the tourism sector will come from creating quality, end-to-end experiences, curated to the needs of travellers."

As an example of local tour operators taking the lead to develop new and curated experiences, he cited Tribe, who had launched Niu Che Shui (牛车水) Murders, a gamified tour where participants solve a series of puzzles around Chinatown. Tribe has experienced a healthy flow of participants, with added support from SingapoRediscover Voucers (SRV).

Explained Chan, "We are not waiting for a full reopening. Singapore is prepared to disrupt the status quo, transform our products and services, and harness our capabilities to capture the next lap of growth ahead. We hope that both local and international partners will join us on this journey, to equip ourselves for success in the future tourism economy."

Top image via Bna Ignacio on Unsplash