Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at Tourism Industry Conference

Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at Tourism Industry Conference



1 Good morning, partners and friends of our tourism industry.


2 Great to be here at Tourism Industry Conference again. To returning friends, welcome back. To new partners from around the world joining us for the first time, a warm welcome to Singapore.


3 Good to meet in person and see that many of you have resumed business travel to reconnect with your partners abroad as well as leisure travel.


4 The conversations we have now are “when is your next trip?” and “how was your holiday?”, when this time last year, the questions we raised were very different – “are borders open?” and “do we need to take a test?”


Overview of Tourism Recovery


Recovery since 2022


5 Countries have since reopened their borders and rolled back pandemic measures. Airports are buzzing with activity; cruise ships are sailing to somewhere rather than nowhere and our tourism businesses are welcoming travellers once again!


6 All this could not have happened without all of you. You persevered and journeyed with us, complied with the measures, transformed your businesses and brought our beloved tourism sector back to life!


2023 and beyond


7 We did well in 2022. As global travel continues to pick up, we expect Singapore’s tourism sector to see similar growth momentum this year.


8 We expect 2023 international visitor arrivals to Singapore to recover to about 12 to 14M, and tourism receipts to reach S$18B to S$21B. This is approximately two-thirds to three-quarters of pre-pandemic levels of 19M visitors and S$28B in tourism receipts respectively.


9 We are trending well. March’s international visitor arrivals surpassed the 1M mark in a month for the first time since the pandemic. If all goes well, we expect our tourism sector to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.


10 In the next three years, the Asia Pacific will likely be our main sources of international visitor arrivals, with China joining them as it continues to reopen.


11 With recovery underway, we have our sight set on the future of tourism. We will build on our appeal to key visitor segments like families and business travellers, given our commitment to and reputation for safe travel and the wide range of events we offer to leisure and business travellers. We are also positioning ourselves to capture emerging market segments like wellness and sustainability.


12 Let me share some of our plans to recapture mindshare and strengthen our appeal as a destination, and how we will continue to support you as we execute these plans.


Capturing Mindshare of Fans and Visitors


13 First, we will capture the mindshare of fans and visitors.


14 Beyond our reputation as a green island destination, there are many facets of Singapore we would like to showcase.


15 We plan to do so through more branded entertainment – weaving features of Destination Singapore by telling authentic and relatable stories and showcasing Singapore’s personality and offerings. We want to connect with new fans and visitors, and reconnect with existing ones, enticing the world to visit and experience Singapore for themselves.


a. Branded entertainment is a powerful tool to capture and grow mindshare beyond traditional channels. We have in the past supported projects like Crazy Rich Asians and more recently, courted K-drama Little Women and HBO’s Food Affair with Mark Wiens as partners.


b. We will up our branded entertainment game. We will be more strategic and intentional. We will forge longer-term partnerships with our media and entertainment partners, as demand for online entertainment and Asian narratives grow.


16 STB and IMDA are jointly launching a S$10 million “Singapore On-screen Fund” to support entertainment content that spotlights and markets Destination Singapore. With this joint fund, we hope to catalyse production of major film and TV projects set in Singapore, and made in collaboration with our international media and entertainment partners. This will provide our home-grown talents opportunities to work with their international counterparts and allow our people and companies to grow their capabilities and widen their global exposure.


17 We will invite selected media conglomerates, major streamers and production studios with regional or global networks to apply for this fund and be part of our branded entertainment efforts.


18 With that, we hope to make more of our Singapore-themed entertainment available to viewers around the world, so we can be top-of-mind when travellers pick their next destination.


Strengthening Singapore’s Attractiveness as a Destination


19 Second, we will make ourselves even more attractive as a destination to the world. Let me share how, and take you down the road to a familiar precinct – Orchard Road.


Orchard Road Rejuvenation Plans


20 Visitors will almost certainly encounter Orchard Road as they search and browse for what to do and see in Singapore.


21 Many know Orchard Road as our iconic shopping belt. Did you know that it was named after the fruit orchards and nutmeg plantations that used to line the streets until the turn of the 20th century?


22 Today, our Orchard Road precinct houses over 5,000 establishments, offering a variety of lifestyle and retail experiences. In 2019, we announced plans to rejuvenate Orchard Road, with a vision to make it a must-visit lifestyle destination with an unparalleled street experience within our garden city. We have made substantial progress since, in spite of the disruptions caused by the pandemic.


a. We held new and signature events along Orchard Road, like our Singapore Garden Festival, Grand Prix Season Singapore precinct party, and Pinkmas at Somerset by the Museum of Ice Cream.


b. This year, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Christmas on a Great Street! So come join us to make Orchard Road even more vibrant.


23 We are also anticipating other exciting offerings along Orchard Road. We are:


a. Launching Trifecta, a new sports-themed attraction at the Somerset Belt later this year;


b. Developing a new 3,000-persons event venue by Lendlease and Live Nation at the former Grange Road carpark. We expect this to be ready from Q4 2024.


c. Unveiling new and refurbished hotels like Pan Pacific Orchard and Grand Hyatt Singapore.


24 In the mid- to long-term, we expect to see more public-private collaboration to spruce up and inject new vibrancy into Orchard Road.


a. On public sector-led projects:


i. STB will enhance the wayfinding system to showcase areas across Orchard Road and help visitors discover where to shop, dine and play. We will also install Creative street furniture along Orchard Road’s pedestrian mall for visitors to sit, enjoy the streetscape and provide instagrammable spots.


ii. We are also ‘Bring-ing Back the Orchard’ by transforming Orchard Road into a lush green corridor. We will redesign Istana Park to link with Dhoby Ghaut Green and Penang Road Open Space to create a larger green space with a new nature playgarden on Orchard Road. We expect to complete these progressively from 2025.


b. On private sector-led initiatives:


i. The Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) is leading a feasibility study to develop a sustainability roadmap to reposition Orchard Road as a leading and sustainable lifestyle precinct. It will align this roadmap with existing sector-specific sustainability roadmaps that many Orchard Road businesses today have already established within their sectors.


ii. Cathay has also started to find new tenants for Cineleisure Orchard. Once completed, we will see a refreshed tenancy mix focusing on local brands. We expect this to be completed in Q3 2023.


iii. At the other end of Orchard Road, we will expand Temasek Shophouse – a social impact hub – to cater to our growing community of changemakers. We will integrate this beautiful row of heritage buildings into a large, contiguous space, for more activities around social and environmental causes.


Other Pipeline Offerings


25 And there is more beyond Orchard Road. Let me share some highlights:


a. We are opening Bird Paradise in May, home to 3,500 birds from over 400 avian species, housed in eight large walk-through aviaries;


b. We are hosting the inaugural Olympic Esports Week in June. This has the potential to grow Singapore into a global eSports Hub, attracting creatives and talents to Singapore.


c. We will launch Sentosa Sensoryscape in Q4 this year, a multi-sensory walk with a day-to-night experience connecting Resorts World Sentosa, Imbiah Lookout and the beachfront.


d. We announced last week that Disney’s new cruise ship will exclusively homeport in Singapore from 2025. It will be the largest ship to homeport here and represents Disney Cruise Line’s debut in Southeast Asia.


e. We will open new concept hotels Raffles Sentosa Resorts & Spa Singapore, the first all-villa hotel in Singapore, and Artyzen Singapore, which will embed our rich Peranakan culture and history into its building, interiors and service philosophy.


26 With these rejuvenation plans, we will ensure a steady pipeline of world-class, quality tourism offerings in the coming years.


Leading Sustainable Urban Destination


27 Third. I have spoken about branded entertainment, and our launches and rejuvenation plans. Our third pillar is building Singapore as a leading sustainable urban destination, in line with our Singapore Green Plan 2030.


28 Two months ago, I announced that Singapore has been certified as a sustainable destination based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) Destination Criteria.


a. This follows similar achievements by our tourism partners such as Sentosa Development Corporation, Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands Singapore.


b. Being certified is just the start. We will continue to steward Singapore to become a sustainable urban destination by 2030.


29 Today, I am pleased to share that STB is collaborating with GSTC, the Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS) and Association of Singapore Attractions (ASA), to actively contribute to the development of GSTC’s first global sustainability standards for the MICE and Attractions industries respectively. We expect these industry criteria to be launched progressively from next year.


a.  These will ensure our tourism sector continues to maximise social and economic benefits, reduce environmental impact, and conserve our local heritage.


30 Sustainability is a journey. We will play our part as responsible global citizens, and further global discussions on sustainable tourism. We are thus proud to be selected to host the GSTC Global Conference in November next year. This is a joint effort by STB, Sentosa Development Corporation and Resorts World Sentosa.


31 We hope these efforts will inspire more tourism businesses and destinations to contribute to a greener world.




32 In closing, these are exciting time. COVID-19 was not too long ago, but that is in the past and we have our sights set firmly for the future. We will strengthen our brand, our offerings and our sustainability efforts. We will put Singapore at topmost of mind as we lead and reimagine this brave and exciting new world of travel and tourism. I have every confidence that we have what it takes to make it happen together.


33 I wish you a productive conference ahead! Thank you.


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