1. Mr Speaker, I thank the Member for his support of the Bill and the opportunity to make some clarifications.
2. Mr Louis Ng asked about the introduction of a new provision for STB to act as a guarantor for tourism enterprises and the situations in which STB might do so. On rare occasions, STB may opt to exercise the power to act as a guarantor if there are strong and clear benefits to the economy.
3. Multiple layers of safeguards will be in place before STB takes on the guarantor role. For example, a comprehensive risk assessment will be conducted to measure factors such as the risk to the Government, the track record of the tourism enterprise, potential cost and time savings as well as economic benefits. STB will also need to seek the approvals of its Board of Directors as well as the Minister for Trade and Industry. Additional safeguards may also be taken to reduce the overall risk to STB, such as requesting indemnity from the tourism enterprise.
4. Mr Louis Ng also asked how public interest will be determined in this Bill. The term “public interest” appears in legislation of other regulatory regimes, such as in the Travel Agents Act 1975.
5. The cruise terminals are international gateways into Singapore. As a port of entry, there are safety and security considerations on whether the cruise terminal licensee is fit and proper to operate such a critical checkpoint. Where there are risks to Singapore’s public interest, for example, being complicit in allowing a breach of border security, the Controller will be able to take these into consideration to assess the suitability of the licensee.
6. Other factors which may be taken into account include, but are not limited to, public health considerations. For example, in a public health emergency, cruise terminal and tourist guide licensees may be directed to abide by new protocols in relation to persons at cruise terminals or in their tour groups, so as to protect the general well-being of the public.
7. Just like other regulatory regimes, STB and the Controller will ensure there is clear public interest involved before relying on this ground.
8. With regards to the sustainability efforts of the cruise sector, which Mr Ng asked about, the global cruise industry’s commitment to environmental sustainability is evident. Despite comprising less than 1% of the global maritime industry, the global cruise industry is at the forefront of developing innovative technologies and has invested more than US$26 billion in new ships with energy efficient technologies and cleaner fuels. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is one of the cleanest-burning non-electric marine fuels available today. There is an increasing trend of cruise lines building LNG-powered ships. This is a significant step as the use of LNG results in almost no sulphur emissions, reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by 85% and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. The industry is also actively exploring the use of alternative sustainable fuels and implementing them at scale in future.
9. In April this year, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced clear commitments to implement environmentally sustainable practices at sea and at berths. CLIA’s global fleet of cruise lines aim to achieve net-zero carbon cruising by 2050 and reduce the rate of carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.
10. In line with the Singapore Green Plan 2030, Singapore is well-positioned to facilitate the cruise industry’s shift towards a more sustainable future. As a leading bunkering hub with expertise in ancillary services, such as the retrofitting of LNG ships, we are an ideal homeport for LNG-powered ships.
11. STB’s grant schemes also encourage the deployment of cruise ships with sustainable practices to Singapore. In 2024, Singapore will welcome its first deployment of an LNG-powered cruise ship, Silversea’s Silver Nova. This will pave the way for the deployment of more sustainably powered cruise ships to Singapore.
12. I wish to thank Mr Ng for his questions and keen support.
13. Mr Speaker Sir, the Government is committed to continuing its efforts to make Singapore an attractive tourism destination and fostering an environment for tourism enterprises to thrive. We look forward to the continued support of this House in this endeavour.