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Joint taskforce to be formed to map out tourism recovery strategies for Singapore

Singapore, 11 February 2020 – Tourism arrivals and receipts for 2020 will take a significant hit as a result of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), but Singapore’s tourism sector is aiming for a strong recovery on the back of four years of consecutive growth, a compelling pipeline of tourism investments, and efforts to build new capabilities. In addition, the government will form a public-private sector Tourism Recovery Action Task Force to lay out the plans for recovery and future growth.

The Novel Coronavirus has had a significant impact on visitor arrivals, especially from China, which accounts for around 20 per cent of international visitor arrivals. Visitor arrivals from STB’s other key source markets are also expected to fall due to lower travel confidence globally. Based on the current situation, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) expects visitor arrivals this year to fall by about 25 to 30 per cent.

Chief Executive of Singapore Tourism Board (STB) Mr Keith Tan said: “Singapore’s tourism sector is facing its biggest challenge since SARS in 2003. But unlike SARS, we are now better prepared and more resilient. Our destination remains attractive, we have a strong pipeline of tourism products, and our market portfolio is diverse.”

“The growth that we have enjoyed over the past four years reflects our strong tourism fundamentals,” he added. “With the support of the industry and through our joint taskforce, we will continue to build our capabilities, transform our tourism businesses, and rebound strongly from the Novel Coronavirus.”

The Tourism Recovery Action Task Force, or TRAC, will map out recovery strategies and plans for tourism in Singapore. The taskforce will comprise tourism leaders from both the private and public sectors, to leverage the strengths of both sectors and to coordinate recovery efforts. Their work will include identifying opportunities arising from the nCoV crisis, driving and implementing measures to instil confidence in Singapore’s tourism establishments, as well as co-creating and initiating recovery plans. More details will be announced at a later date.

To provide immediate support for affected tourism businesses, STB had earlier unveiled measures to waive license fees for hotels, travel agents and tourist guides, and to defray cleaning costs for hotels with suspected and confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus. Additional support measures will be announced at the Budget on 18 Feb.   


In 2019, Singapore saw growths in both visitor arrivals and tourism receipts for a fourth consecutive year, despite global headwinds.

Visitor arrivals (VA) rose 3.3 per cent in 2019 to reach 19.1 million visitors, who spent a total of S$27.1 billion in tourism receipts (TR)[1], a marginal growth of 0.5 per cent.

In 2019, tourism receipts grew but was slowed by declines in Accommodation (-7%), Food & Beverages (-5%) and Sightseeing, Entertainment & Gaming[2] (-2%). These were partially offset by growths in Shopping (3%) and Other TR components[3] (4%). For Other TR Components, airfare revenue rose on the back of more visitor arrivals via local-based carriers.

Visitor Arrivals (2019)

11 out of Singapore’s top 15 source markets registered VA growth in 2019, with nine markets – China, Indonesia, Australia, Philippines, USA, South Korea, UK, Vietnam and Germany – hitting record-high arrivals.

China (+6%), USA (+13%) and Indonesia (+3%) saw the largest absolute growths in visitor arrivals in 2019.  


Tourism Receipts (YTD 3Q2019).

From January to September 2019, growth was registered in five of Singapore’s top 10 TR source markets. Indonesia (+6%), USA (+14%) and China (+2%) posted the highest year-on-year absolute growths in tourism receipts, excluding Sightseeing, Entertainment and Gaming (TR ex-SEG).

Indonesia led TR growth, with leisure visitors from Indonesia spending more on shopping and an increased number of visitors arriving via Singapore-based carriers. The growth of TR from USA was due to increased visitor arrivals across both leisure and BTMICE segments, with more visitors flying in via local full-service carriers. Greater BTMICE arrivals from China contributed to China’s TR growth. 



BTMICE Industry Performance (YTD 3Q2019)

From January to September 2019, TR ex-SEG for the Business Travel and Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibitions (BTMICE) sector fell 7 per cent year-on-year to reach S$3.2 billion. This decline can be attributed to fewer BTMICE arrivals

(-8% to reach 1.8 million visitors), coupled with macroeconomic uncertainties that affected spending.

Despite the weaker performance in 2019, Singapore continues to attract leading BTMICE events. In 2019, Singapore hosted a number of notable, inaugural events such as the Intelligent Transport Systems Congress, while events such as the EY Asia-Pacific Partners Conference and the International Council of Nurses Congress also brought in a healthy number of foreign attendees.

Hotels Industry Performance (2019)

The hotel industry performed well in 2019, with growth registered across all categories. Total gazetted hotel room revenue stood at S$4.2 billion in 2019, as Average Room Rates (ARR) rose to $221. Average Occupancy Rate (AOR) grew one percentage point to reach 87.1 per cent, while Revenue per Available Room (RevPar) reached S$193.

This strong performance follows increased demand for room stays in 2019, especially during major festive periods and sporting events in Singapore.

Cruise Industry Performance (2019)

In 2019, cruise passenger throughput fell 2.5 per cent to reach 1.8 million passengers. This decline is largely attributed to the dry docking of Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas in Singapore for over a month to undergo refurbishment works.

However, foreign cruise throughput grew by 3.5 per cent while ship calls rose 3.2 per cent to 414, with more European liners such as AIDA Cruises and Marella Cruises contributing to the growth. Demand for cruise remained strong in 2019, with Royal Caribbean International and Genting seeing healthy occupancy for their ships. 



Enhanced Singapore’s destination attractiveness

Several new attractions opened in 2019, including Jewel Changi Airport, Floral Fantasy at Gardens by the Bay and NERF Action Xperience. Lifestyle offerings such as Design Orchard and Funan also added to Singapore’s vibrancy.

Singapore also hosted new events such as the Grand Prix Singapore Season (GPSS) Precinct Parties, Chinatown Opera Festival, the Frieze Art and Architecture Summit, and many more. Popular favourites such as the International Champions Cup, Singapore Art Week and Singapore Food Festival also returned.

Built an innovative and competitive industry

In 2019, STB introduced a number of key initiatives to drive technology innovation and adoption among tourism businesses. The Singapore Tourism Accelerator welcomed its first cohort in 2019, to seek out strong ideas and solutions for long-standing challenges faced by the tourism sector. Businesses can also enrol in three foundational courses[4] by STB’s Tech College, developed in partnership with the Singapore Management University Academy, to learn how to use technology to adapt to changes in the tourism landscape.

Beyond technology, creating good and diverse jobs was another area of focus in 2019. For example, STB partnered Workforce Singapore and the Singapore Hotel Association to launch the Hotel Job Redesign Initiative. More than 100 hotels have pledged to redesign jobs to be of higher quality, so as to enhance job satisfaction.


As the Novel Coronavirus situation is expected to persist, STB will continue to identify targeted and effective ways to support the tourism industry and tourism employees. Together with tourism industry partners, STB will maintain its plans to enhance Singapore’s destination attractiveness, with work progressing on the Mandai Nature Precinct, the Jurong Lake District, the Sentosa-Brani masterplan, the rejuvenation of Orchard Road, and the expansion of the Integrated Resorts. STB will also continue to explore meaningful partnerships with international and regional companies and brands, to strengthen Singapore’s value proposition as a tourism destination.  

“It is more important than ever to invest in tourism to support our businesses, build confidence in tourism, and boost our destination attractiveness – so that when things start to improve, Singapore can ride on the recovery for strong growth. STB remains committed to our mid- to long-term tourism plans, to ensure that Singapore has a steady pipeline of new and repeat visitors,” said Mr Keith Tan.

Among the new and rejuvenated plans that locals and visitors can look forward to in 2020 are Magical Shores at Siloso, Dota 2 Singapore Major and Matisse & Picasso – the first of four special international art exhibitions at National Gallery Singapore. The decommissioned power station at 27 Pasir Panjang Road (27PP) will also host a series of lifestyle events across different genres, spanning from art to music and dining, as an interim indoor events space. The site will subsequently be released for development in 2021, as part of the rejuvenation plans for the Greater Southern Waterfront.  

Singapore also boasts a strong pipeline of BTMICE events in 2020 and beyond. Notable events include gamescom asia 2020, the Asia Pacific Life Insurance Congress and the Million Dollar Round Table Global Conference in 2021, and the World Congress of Dermatology 2023.

Please download the STB Year-in-Review presentation deck and infographics from the following links:

·         Annex A – STB Year-in-Review presentation
·         Annex B – STB Year-in-Review infographics

[1] Preliminary estimates for full year 2019.

[2] Sightseeing, Entertainment & Gaming includes entrance fees to attractions & nightspots, expenditure on day-tours, leisure events as well as entertainment at the Integrated Resorts.

[3] Other TR components include expenditure on airfares on Singapore-based carriers, port taxes, local transportation, business, medical, education and transit visitors.

[4] Developed in partnership with SMU, these courses are available from January 2020.


About the Singapore Tourism Board

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is the lead development agency for tourism, one of Singapore’s key economic sectors. Together with industry partners and the community, we shape a dynamic Singapore tourism landscape. We bring the Passion Made Possible brand to life by differentiating Singapore as a vibrant destination that inspires people to share and deepen their passions.

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