Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at the Singapore Tourism Awards 2022

Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at the Singapore Tourism Awards 2022

Ladies and gentlemen,
Distinguished guests,
Mr Chaly Mah, Chairman, STB
Mr Keith Tan, Chief Executive, STB

1 Good evening. It is really good to be here and meet in person. 

2 As I shared during the Tourism Industry Conference, it has been incredibly difficult for the tourism sector in the past two years. All of you in the tourism and hospitality sectors – it is in your DNA to be open, to be hospitable, to show people around your hotels, your attractions, your offerings. But for two years, you have had to go against that entire grain of who you are, what you are brought up with and what you sought to achieve. We have had to close up, social distance and close our airports to the world. We had to do things very differently. 

3 I remember in those days, not too long ago. We were on the ground, visiting many of the tour operators and the hotels. In the early days, we had to take our vaccination together with our tourism sector colleagues, to show that it is safe, that we can take the lead, and it is just a start for us to try to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.

4 There were times we had to work very closely with many of you to tweak some of the policies. We had the SingapoRediscover vouchers to help Singapore tourist attractions to come up with new offerings, to help people rediscover Singapore. We also worked with you, the tourism sector, to see how we can support you with the Jobs Support Scheme. The tourism sector got the highest tier because you were the hardest hit. And we tweaked it so that as many of you could get that as possible to help retain your staff.

5 We also visited the Singapore Hotel Association to make sure that our young and aspiring hoteliers and hospitality players were able to get the skills required. So that when there is an uplift, they can be ready to take it on. 

6 It was a very difficult time but thank you from the bottom of our hearts for working so closely with us. You bore with all the challenges, and all of the rules, which sometimes were not so straightforward. We had to pivot from time to time. 

7 What is the outcome? The outcome is that we have one of the highest rates of vaccination in the world at 97%, and one of the highest boosted rates in the world. We have one of the lowest fatality rates in the world, particularly – and I say this proudly – among our seniors. We protected the most vulnerable and we protected most of our people. This gave us the foundation to emerge from this crisis on a stronger footing. Now we are open and we are making sure that we can offer the world what we have built over the last two years. 

8 We could not have opened to the world without every single one of you, including many of you who have played your part behind the scenes to keep Singapore safe. Tonight, is your night, tonight we recognise, honour and celebrate you. 

9 Congratulations to the tourism sector and congratulations to each and every one of you.

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