Singapore to pump RM1.06bil into tourism as part of broader economic plan

International visitor arrivals are expected to reach between 15 million and 16 million visitors in 2024. - ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): Singapore’s tourism industry will receive a S$300 million(RM1.06 billion) boost as part of a plan to grow the local economy and reinforce its global business-hub status.

The injection into the country’s Tourism Development Fund, announced by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan in Parliament on March 1, will help to develop and market new products and experiences and support local businesses in developing new intellectual properties.

It will also go towards rejuvenating existing tourism offerings, upskilling tourism workers and helping local tourism companies become more productive and innovative, he added.

The Tourism Development Fund has contributed to offerings like Trifecta – the world’s first snow, surf and skate attraction in the heart of Orchard Road – in October 2023 and the year-round exclusive home-porting of Disney Cruise Line’s latest cruise ship, Disney Adventure, in Singapore starting from 2025.

“Over the past two years, the fund has also helped over 100 local tourism businesses become more productive and sustainable,” Mr Tan said during the debate on the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s (MTI’s) budget.

A new pipeline of high-quality and first-of-its-kind experiences will be launched in the coming years in collaboration with the tourism sector.

“This will help us maintain our international mindshare and strengthen our appeal as a compelling destination,” Mr Tan said.

Some initiatives are also planned to enhance existing tourism experiences.

A new attraction – Sensoryscape – will form a thoroughfare connecting Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and Sentosa’s beaches, improving accessibility within the island. Sensoryscape will feature multisensorial gardens and offer digital light art displays at night.

RWS will also launch the new Singapore Oceanarium in 2025 as an extension of the S.E.A. Aquarium, but three times its size. There will also be a new waterfront lifestyle development and a driverless transport system between the main island and RWS.

The drive to boost tourism comes as international visitor arrivals continue to recover. A total of 13.6 million visitor arrivals were recorded in 2023, reaching 71 per cent of 2019 levels, while tourism receipts for the first three quarters of 2023 reached 98 per cent of the same period in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic halted travel worldwide.

To capture the winds of recovery, new experiences and offerings were launched – including the Bird Paradise at the Mandai Wildlife Reserve, HyperDrive at Sentosa, and Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience at RWS. Live entertainment has resumed, with Singapore playing host to prominent acts such as Blackpink, Ed Sheeran, Jacky Cheung, Coldplay and others. Taylor Swift will be playing six shows in Singapore starting on March 2 as part of her global The Eras Tour.

The city also hosted some of the world’s largest Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions industry) events in 2023, including Asia Tech x Singapore, Gastech and Herbalife Apac Extravaganza.

Mr Tan said international visitor arrivals are expected to reach between 15 million and 16 million visitors in 2024, and bring in about $26 billion to $27.5 billion in tourism receipts.

“As we continue to put Singapore on the map, we welcome people from all over the world – not just as a tourist destination, but also as a business hub,” he said.

While tourism is an important pillar of Singapore’s economy, trade remains critical for the nation’s prosperity. Singapore’s total trade in goods and services has more than doubled between 2005 and 2023, from around $890 billion to more than $2 trillion, three times the gross domestic product, with manufacturing as the biggest source of exports.

Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said Singapore needs to invest in future growth to keep its economy resilient and vibrant. Presenting his ministry’s budget plans to Parliament, he said the Government will achieve its longer-term economic goals through the four strategies of GUTC: growing the economy; unlocking resource potentials; transforming businesses; and connecting to strengthen its status as a global business node.

He said leveraging trade networks, promoting investment and adoption of new technologies, and developing talent will be the three main thrusts to help grow the economy. “Singapore has established a strong reputation as a well-connected, reliable and trusted logistics and transportation hub. Amid shifts in global supply chains, businesses and investors continue to be attracted to Singapore due to our robust infrastructure, pro-business policies and skilled workforce,” Mr Gan noted.

Foreign direct investment in Singapore has grown by more than 50 per cent, from $1.9 trillion five years ago, to reach approximately $2.9 trillion as at end-2023.

“This trajectory is expected to continue,” he said, adding that Singapore will continue to deepen cooperation with its global partners to grow trade and attract investments.

Mr Gan said an artificial intelligence (AI) centre of excellence (CoE) for the manufacturing sector is being developed as a pilot initiative by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and A*Star. The CoE forms part of Singapore’s effort under the Singapore National AI Strategy 2.0 to build a thriving industry ecosystem in Singapore with significant value creation from AI and capabilities across the AI technology stack, he said. The AI CoE pilot will span over three years. MTI will also partner 100 companies to build internal AI capabilities and develop and adopt AI solutions.

MTI said in a separate statement: “By working with the CoE to co-develop solutions, companies in Singapore will be able to create higher-value products, customise AI solutions which can be scaled on the production floor, and accelerate the transformation of their operations, processes and business activities through the adoption of AI.”

MTI is also working closely with the marine and offshore engineering (M&OE) sector to ensure it remains productive, globally competitive and well positioned to leverage new growth opportunities.

Mr Gan said the sector needs to rethink its operating model, pivot to higher-skilled, higher-value activities, and reduce its reliance on foreign workers. To catalyse this shift, the Government will progressively adjust the marine shipyard sector’s concessionary dependency ratio ceiling – the maximum share of S Pass and Work Permit holders in a company – in 2026.

“We recognise that transformation, while necessary, is never easy. We will thus provide an M&OE Support Package totalling around $100 million over the next five years to help companies transform, uplift our workers and position the M&OE sector for new growth opportunities,” he said.

Mr Gan said the Government will also enhance the Partnerships for Capability Transformation scheme, or Pact, that encourages partnerships between larger and smaller enterprises on supplier development and co-innovation.

“Going forward, we will expand Pact to more industries and modalities, including capability training, internationalisation and corporate venturing,” he said.

As an example of the success of Pact, Mr Gan cited the experience of GlobalFoundries, an American semiconductor manufacturer, and its local supplier Forefront AM.

Under Pact, GlobalFoundries was able to work closely with Forefront AM to scale up its capability in additive manufacturing so it could repair some of GlobalFoundries’ high-value semiconductor manufacturing tools.

Mr Gan said a new initiative, the Global Business Leaders Programme (GBLP), will support key companies in sending their Singaporean middle to senior managers with leadership potential for overseas postings and other developmental opportunities.

GBLP participants will be inducted as Singapore Leaders Network Fellows, and they will receive mentoring and grow their professional networks, he said.

“The GBLP will support companies in their regionalisation efforts and in growing a pipeline of Singaporean corporate leaders who can take their businesses to new heights,” Mr Gan said.

The minister said economic transformation will always be a key priority for Singapore.

“We must remain agile in our economic policy and continue to grow our economy by seizing new opportunities, and making ourselves ever more productive, innovative and competitive,” he said. - The Straits Times/ANN

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Singapore , Big Plans , Tourism Push


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