SINGAPORE: The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will waive licence fees for hotels, travel agents and tourist guides, as well as defray the cleaning and disinfection costs of hotels that had confirmed and suspected cases of the novel coronavirus.
This is the first step in a wider set of measures to help tourism-reliant businesses, which have already been hit by the spread of the virus, said STB yesterday.
Full details of the package of relief measures will be announced in the Budget on Feb 18.
STB chief executive Keith Tan said: “Over the past week, STB has been in close contact with our tourism partners to understand their difficulties and to assess the impact.
“We know the situation is likely to persist, and recognise that we need to move quickly to support the industry and build confidence.”
Chinese tourists account for around 20% of Singapore’s total international visitor arrivals. Last year (2019), about 3.6 million Chinese travellers visited Singapore.
As part of the initial package, hotels where suspected and confirmed patients of the virus had stayed at will get help with their cleaning bills. These hotels have had to do enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection after the cases were detected.
STB will cover up to 50% of such third-party professional cleaning fees. This is capped at S$20,000 (RM59,979) per establishment with confirmed cases, and up to S$10,000 (RM29,989) per establishment with suspected cases. The financial assistance will be backdated to Jan 23, when the first case of coronavirus infection was detected in Singapore.
In addition, the Hotels Licensing Board will waive licence fees for hotels for the rest of the year.
Similarly, travel agents and tourist guides whose licences are due for renewal in 2020 will not need to pay to renew their licences. — The Straits Times/ANN