Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) whether the Government collects data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Chinatown businesses in terms of revenue decline or number of merchants closing and, if so, what does the data show; (b) whether the Government will allow the use of SingapoRediscovers Vouchers for Chinatown-based businesses including retail and F&B operators; and (c) whether the Chinatown Digitalisation Initiative is expected to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on their business and, if so, how many businesses are targeted to be so assisted.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing
1. The significant decline in international visitors in 2020 due to COVID-19 has impacted Singapore’s tourism businesses and precincts, including Chinatown. STB has been working closely with the Chinatown Business Association (CBA), as well as precinct stakeholders and businesses, to support businesses through this difficult time.
2. To attract locals to visit Chinatown, STB has worked with CBA and other stakeholders on initiatives such as Hawker Day Out, special weekend workshops, new innovative experiences, in addition to annual cultural festivities and events. STB’s SingapoRediscovers campaign, which has encouraged locals to rediscover hidden gems and new experiences in our neighbourhoods, has provided additional marketing and publicity support for these Chinatown initiatives.
3. The SingapoRediscovers Vouchers (SRV) scheme is primarily targeted at businesses that derive most of their income from tourists – hotels, tourist attractions and tours. Thus, all Chinatown-based hotels, tourist attractions and tours which have been approved to operate may apply to participate in the SRV scheme. F&B and retail businesses can work with eligible merchants to develop bundles that qualify for the SRVs.
4. Beyond these initiatives, it is also important to support businesses to transform the way they operate so that they remain relevant in this fast evolving market. The Chinatown Digitalisation Initiatives help Chinatown businesses engage new customers by building their digital presence and leveraging digital solutions. This helps them drive physical and digital traffic both locally and from overseas. The scheme aim to encourage 250 businesses (25% of businesses in Chinatown) to adopt at least one of the digital initiatives by April 2022.