1. Thank you, Your Excellency, Ahmed Al Khateeb for your leadership.
2. We are in unprecedented times. Just as 9-11 changed air travel, COVID-19 will also reshape tourism. The pandemic is unlikely to go away in the short term. The possibility of recurring waves of infection is high given the uneven containment and mitigation measures adopted worldwide.
3. We expect and must prepare for a new normal that will be defined by demand in three areas:
a. Higher assurance in hygiene, cleanliness and healthcare standards.
b. Rapid detection, tracing, and isolation, alongside harmonisation of standards for health checks, for resumption of cross-border travels.
c. Greater transparency and information sharing.
4. We must rise to the new challenges by working together.
5. In the near term, we expect domestic tourism to uphold the industry before resumption of international travel. Meanwhile, we must:
a. Maintain capabilities of our tourism workforce, for once lost, will be hard to resuscitate. Governments will need to do our part to support the tourism industry in this difficult period.
b. Demonstrate commitment and confidence to continue long-term capability development. Quality will trump quantity. Unique propositions will trump mass market propositions.
6. In the medium term, we must collectively invest in standards and technology for mutual assurance. We have started to implement in Singapore, our SG Clean campaign, where we instil best practices for hygiene in our consumer-facing establishments, and audit to ensure compliance. Countries can work together to implement similar ratings and standards for individuals, to assure countries of the health status of travelers from a specific country or region.
7. The adoption of technology can help us in at least three ways. First, for information sharing, contact tracing and public health management. Second, for adoption of e-visas, digital passports and contactless payment systems to facilitate travel. Third, technology can support recovery of tourism businesses by expanding into the digital realm to tap on new markets, strengthening the overall resilience of the industry.
8. While tourism will change, tourism will not go away. Humans are social creatures and explorers. But humans will increasingly look for unique and sustainable travel options. Therein lies challenges and opportunities.
9. Collaboration will amplify our strengths and allow us to recover faster. Singapore looks forward to working with like-minded counterparts to help our industry recover and scale new heights.
10. Thank you.
25 APR 2020