Singapore: Hotels, travel agents and tour guides licence fee waivers extended to end-2021; 8 new imported cases on Tuesday (March 2)

Alvin Tan noted that some 7,000 tourism businesses had benefited from the Jobs Support Scheme in 2020. - The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE, March 2 (The Straits Times/ANN): Licence fee waivers for hotels, travel agents and tour guides will be extended to the end of 2021 as part of efforts to aid the recovery of the tourism sector.

Responding to questions from MPs on how the sector would be supported given ongoing travel restrictions on Tuesday (March 2), Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan noted that some 7,000 tourism businesses had benefited from the Jobs Support Scheme in 2020, and firms in the sector will receive further wage support until September 2021.

The SingapoRediscovers campaign and vouchers scheme, intended to boost local tourism through $100 of credit vouchers to all Singapore citizens aged 18 and above, will continue to be vital as international arrivals are expected to remain weak this year.

The Government is exploring ways to improve the voucher scheme, Tan added.

In the Covid-19 corner, there were eight new coronavirus cases confirmed as at noon on Tuesday (March 2), taking Singapore's total to 59,956.

All eight were imported cases who had been placed on stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

There were no community cases and none from migrant workers' dormitories.

Meanwhile, A platform for tourism stakeholders to create and test new solutions, with the aim of increasing the adoption of technology and best practices, will be opened this year as well.

Hotel, travel agent and tourist guide licence fees had earlier been waived until end-2020.

Hotel operators typically pay between S$300 and S$500 to renew their licences yearly, depending on the number of rooms.

Tour guides and travel agents due to renew their licences for 2021 will not need to pay to do so. Tour guide licences cost $72 and are valid for three years, while the renewal of a travel agent’s licence costs S$400.

Tan also outlined efforts to help the industry transform and build resilience against future disruptions.

Tech adoption has become an imperative rather than an option during the Covid-19 crisis.

The tourism sector, for one, has tapped new technologies to transform, Tan noted, citing how organisers of the Singapore Fintech Festival x Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology last year pivoted to a hybrid event with a 24-hour online platform.

High-growth industries, such as agri-food tech, have also emerged thanks to tech adoption, he said.

Financing schemes and funding such as the Agri-Food Cluster Transformation Fund are in place to help small and medium-sized enterprises venture into the agri-food sector, Tan added, in reply to a question from Mr Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC). - The Straits Times/ANN

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