Speech by Minister Grace Fu at Tourism Industry Conference 2024

Speech by Minister Grace Fu at Tourism Industry Conference 2024

Partners and friends from the tourism industry

Colleagues from STB

Ladies and gentlemen




1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you here at the Tourism Industry Conference for the first time as the Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, overseeing the development of the tourism sector.


2. First, let me thank you for your resilience and dedication towards building a vibrant Singapore that both locals and international visitors enjoy. As we celebrate 60 years of tourism excellence, I am delighted to share with you the exciting opportunities ahead.


Tourism Performance and 2024 Outlook


3. We did well in 2023. International visitor arrivals reached 13.6 million, while our tourism receipts exceeded forecast by recording $27.2 billion, almost equal that of 2019’s (pre-COVID) level. Visitors have also stayed longer in Singapore.


4. Despite volatile global environment and intense competition, we can be optimistic about 2024. As of April this year, we received 5.7 million international visitors, which is approximately 90% of the same period in 2019. Arrivals from more than half of our top 15 markets have fully recovered or exceeded pre-pandemic levels, with Malaysia, Germany, Australia and the UK showing the strongest recovery. We also saw encouraging signs for China where arrivals recovered to 80% of pre-pandemic levels, contributed by the festive holidays and the implementation of the visa exemption in February this year.


5. Our strong performance in the first four months of 2024 is also bolstered by a series of blockbuster events and concerts. These include ART SG, Singapore Airshow, Asia-Pacific Maritime 2024, as well as concerts by Coldplay, Taylor Swift, and more. These events attracted large number of local and foreign attendees, and generated much buzz for Singapore. We also launched the Sensoryscape at Sentosa, featuring interactive spaces with augmented reality to offer a multi-sensory experience.


6. For the rest of the year, we expect many more exciting events and offerings. They include:


a. The Impressions of Monet, a multi-experiential display that showcases the iconic artworks of the impressionist at the Gardens by the Bay;


b. Anime Festival Asia, the largest J-pop and anime comics and game convention in Southeast Asia; and


  c. Wellness Festival Singapore – this third edition features more than 120 wellness offerings, including a new homegrown anchor event, Glow Festival.


7. As in-person meetings and MICE events resume,


a. We will be hosting the Rotary International Convention 2024 this month, which is set to attract more than 13,000 delegates over five days.


b. We will welcome the inaugural CeMAT Southeast Asia 2024, a tradeshow that rides on our position as a global logistics hub.


c. Another notable event is the 20th anniversary of The Forum of Young Global Leaders, a platform of the World Economic Forum.


d. Beyond 2024, I am happy to share that we have also secured the 110th Lions Club International Convention in 2028, which will be the largest Association Convention ever hosted in Singapore.


8. We are constantly innovating to create more value for in-person business events. One example is Koelnmesse, the organiser of the annual gamescom asia, a tradeshow for the gaming industry. In 2023, they pivoted to a B2B2C concept by partnering the first-ever esports tournament Capcom Pro Tour 2023 Offline Premier Singapore and introducing a community-based gathering called Content Creators Summit through the facilitation of STB. This partnership expanded gamescom asia’s reach to consumers and esports players, which saw more than 30,000 visitor attendance in 2023, a 10-fold increase compared to 2022. We will continue to leverage our strengths as a knowledge hub to curate immersive experiences and innovative events.


9. Finally, in April next year, we will have our Singapore Pavilion or ‘Dream Sphere’ open at the World Expo 2025 in Osaka. This will be an excellent opportunity to promote Singapore as a dynamic destination, where our enterprises get to showcase and engage with the Japanese and global companies.


10. As we keep the recovery momentum going, we must press on to shore up our competitiveness. Our strategy will evolve around three 3 “P”s – Place, Partners and People:


a. Developing the “Place”, to boost our attractiveness with new infrastructural developments;


b. Rallying our “Partners”, to rejuvenate our tourism offerings and amplify our marketing; and


c. Building our “People”, to develop future leaders for the industry.


Developing the Place


11. Let me start with the Place.


Integrated Resorts’ Expansion Plans


12. Both of our Integrated Resorts have announced their expansion plans, which will reinvigorate our tourism landscape. These include Resorts World Sentosa’s upcoming Illumination’s Minion Land at Universal Studios Singapore and the new Singapore Oceanarium, an expansion of the S.E.A. Aquarium. Marina Bay Sands has also announced its expansion plan of an additional tower and a 15,000-seat entertainment arena, to be completed by July 2029.


Launch of tender for development of a wellness attraction at the Southern Coast of Singapore


13. With the rising demand for more restorative and wellness-related experiences, we want to position Singapore as an urban wellness haven. STB will be launching a tender in the coming months for the development of a world-class wellness attraction at the southern coast of Singapore. Situated close to the Marina Barrage, the new wellness attraction site can leverage the waterfront and places of interest in the vicinity to create a memorable experience for guests. More details will be unveiled, and I encourage interested developers to reach out to STB.


Porsche Experience Centre (PEC)


14. Next, a new Porsche Experience Centre Singapore is set to open in Changi by 2027, next to the Changi Exhibition Centre. This will be the world’s first regional Porsche Experience Centre, featuring a specially designed 2km handling track, an aftersales facility and other attractions for the whole family to enjoy. We are excited that Porsche has chosen Singapore, and we hope that the Centre will dial up the fun quotient and add vibrancy to the Changi precinct.




15. Singapore has set a national goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and the tourism sector has been tracking this goal well. Last year, Singapore was ranked second in Asia Pacific and 17th globally in the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-I) for tourism and events destinations.


16. We are contributing to sustainable tourism at the global level. In the MICE sector, STB supported the development of the inaugural Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) MICE Criteria, which was published in March. MICE planners, businesses and delegates are increasingly focused on holding sustainable events and driving meaningful change. The MICE Criteria supports this shift by establishing universal guidelines for sustainable practices.


17. We are also supporting the GSTC Attraction Criteria that will be launched this year. Our partners in the Association of Singapore Attractions (ASA), Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS), and other local partners are playing a critical role in supporting these efforts. STB and SACEOS are also aiming for the MICE Sustainability Certification to be internationally-recognised this year. I urge the MICE and Attractions stakeholders to similarly strive for certification, either at a national or international standard based on your readiness. Let us commit to being a sustainable destination.


Rallying our Partners


18. Let me now focus on the second “P”, our partners.


19. To attract increasingly discerning travellers, we must continually enhance Singapore’s vibrancy and attractiveness through our product and experience offerings. The Government is committed to support our industry partners and has injected an additional $300 million to our Tourism Development Fund. Businesses can tap on this fund to develop new products and rejuvenate existing offerings.


Marina Bay Precinct Partnership


20. This morning, I witnessed the signing of two MOUs that demonstrate the commitment of our partners to jointly promote vibrancy and footfall for our precincts. The first MOU is the Marina Bay Precinct Partnership among STB, Marina Bay Sands and UOB. This rides on the success of the pilot partnership in the first quarter of 2024 which presented a series of drone shows as well as exclusive experiences across 26 Marina Bay precinct partners.


Sentosa Precinct Partnership


21. The second MOU involved STB, Sentosa Development Corporation, Resorts World Sentosa and DBS, on a Sentosa Precinct Partnership. This partnership will leverage on opportunities created by the new attractions on Sentosa, including Sentosa Sensoryscape, and Resorts World Sentosa’s expansion plans.




22. With e-commerce gaining popularity, retail businesses have innovated with “first-ofs” and retail-tainment concepts. Mr Bucket’s Chocolaterie is a home-grown brand that has deepened its engagement with customers through curated back-of-house tours and bespoke customisation workshops, collaborated with other lifestyle brands and innovated with new lines of products beyond chocolate Bon Bons. As a result, the brand has doubled their revenue. We will work with more partners to create experiences such as this to build a more vibrant and refreshed landscape of tourism offerings.


Building our People


23. Finally, the third “P”, our people.


24. STB will launch the Tourism Leadership Programme, or TLP in short, by fourth quarter this year to support the development of local leaders in the tourism sector. Through this programme, we want to equip them with the necessary skillsets to navigate the present and the future.


25. One programme under TLP is the Tourism Leadership Excellence & Advancement Programme (T-LEAP), targeted at C-suite, high potential leaders, and business owners of the tourism industry. This programme will cover training in new areas like technology and sustainability. Participants will also be part of the Tourism Leaders Network, a platform to encourage cross-collaboration and knowledge sharing. Through T-LEAP, we hope to enable more talents to make the next leap into leadership positions.


26. One such person is Ms Jamie Tan from PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay.  Jamie started her career as a service staff waiting on tables, where she discovered her passion in the hospitality industry. She is now the Hotel Manager, overseeing the operations of multiple functions and making business decisions for the hotel. T-LEAP will support the aspirations of Jamie and many others to lead the tourism development of Singapore.


27. STB will be conducting the pilot run of T-LEAP with Sentosa Development Corporation, where it will be offered to tourism companies on Sentosa, before expanding the programme to other industry partners.


Tourism 2040


28. I have covered our near to medium term plans. Casting our vision further, I am happy to share that STB has embarked on Tourism 2040, a long-term strategy and roadmap to identify new opportunities and growth areas that can drive the next bound of quality tourism growth for Singapore.


29. While 2040 may seem like some time away, the work starts today. Changi Airport’s Terminal 5 is expected to be operational around mid-2030s. URA is also reviewing the Master Plan for 2025 which will outline key developments and plans for the next 10 to 15 years. We need to act decisively today to capture future opportunities. For a start, we should start thinking about where we want to be collectively as one destination Singapore, and set plans in motion to develop our competitive advantages.


30. In our vision for 2040, we see:


a. a world class destination with diverse, unique and inspiring experiences for visitors;


b. a vibrant and endearing home that Singaporeans and residents proudly advocate for; and


c. a global hub of innovative and productive tourism enterprises, where companies and talents co-create sustainable tourism growth.


31. Melissa will share more on Tourism 2040. I invite you to lean in with feedback and ideas as STB develops this vision over the next 12 months.


STB’s 60th Anniversary


32. As I wrap up, I wish to acknowledge STB and our tourism stakeholders for your contributions in making Singapore a top destination of choice. Indeed, the story of our tourism mirrors that of our country. Our transformation from swampland to a thriving metropolis is only made possible by the vision of our pioneer generations.


33. This year marks STB's 60th anniversary since the establishment of the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board in 1964. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau, a unit within STB that has played a pivotal role in positioning Singapore as a leading global hub for business events.


34. 60 years on, the tourism sector has become an integral engine of growth for Singapore’s economy. Today, the tourism sector employs more than 71,000 workers across businesses including hotels, attractions, tours and MICE.


35. I acknowledge the contributions of the many industry leaders, industry associations, unions, businesses and workers who have worked hard to fly the flag high, to tell the Singapore story in new and refreshing ways, and to go the extra mile to serve our visitors. This anniversary is a milestone to celebrate our collective achievement in shaping this island into the inspiring destination it is today.


36. Tourism will continue to be an important part of Singapore’s future. Let us continue to work together to reimagine, reinvent and co-create our next bound of tourism development.


37. I wish everyone a fruitful TIC 2024.

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