Ladies and Gentlemen
- Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to join you today at the opening of ITB Asia 2009. Let me begin by extending a warm welcome to all overseas visitors.
- Singapore is honoured to be the host destination for the Asian edition of the world’s largest travel trade show for the second consecutive year.
Recovery In Asia - Pacific
- Since the last ITB Asia, the world travel industry has been feeling the effects of the downturn. The good news is that the Asian Development Bank upgraded growth projections for Asia from 6% to 6.4% in 20101 and commented that the region will be “poised to lead the recovery”.2 With intra-regional travel accounting for more than 80% of travel traffic in the Asia-Pacific3, the projected higher economic growth and potential increase in outbound travel in Asia bodes well for us.
- Beyond the region, surveys carried out by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) show that the Asia-Pacific remains a top choice for more than two-thirds of travelers from the UK and USA.
Seizing Opportunities in Tourism
- Although Singapore’s visitor arrivals last year dipped 2% compared to 2007, Singapore’s tourism industry is well-positioned to seize the opportunities in the recovery. Last year, the Singapore economy registered a record $15.2 billion in tourism receipts. 2008 was also a record year for Singapore’s business travel industry, where we welcomed 3 million business travel and MICE visitors and registered nearly $6 billion in tourism receipts. We have been ranked first for the ease of doing business in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2009 report for four consecutive years.
- In another first for Singapore, the recently concluded 2009 Singapore GP Season featured the world premiere of F1 RocksTM.at Fort Canning Park. Altogether, the FORMULA ONE race and its surrounding festivities provided an unrivalled opportunity to showcase Singapore as a vibrant and exciting destination to a global audience.
Stimulating the Tourism Industry in Singapore
- I would like to encourage local and international business partners to continue to work together and seize the opportunities presented as we ride out the downturn together. On its part, the Singapore government continues to work closely with the industry through various initiatives.
- Earlier this year, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) launched the $90 million BOOST - Building on Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism – initiative to grow Singapore’s mindshare as an attractive destination and stimulate visitor arrivals into Singapore. Under this initiative, STB also kick-started two marketing campaigns, “2009 Reasons to enjoy Singapore” and “2009 Reasons to meet in Singapore”.
- STB’s efforts have yielded results. From January to August this year, visitor arrivals totaled 6.2 million, putting Singapore well within the forecast of 9 to 9.5 million visitors by the end of the year.
- STB also launched the enhanced “BE in Singapore” or “Business Events in Singapore” incentive scheme in February this year. Since then, STB has received close to 300 new applications, more than double the number received in the same period last year. Of these new applications, more than 80 per cent have been approved to date. These new events are expected to generate a combined total of $250 million in tourism receipts up to 2012.
ITB Asia Demonstrates Confidence in Asia
- The Asia-Pacific travel market has tremendous potential for growth. ITB Asia is well-placed to tap into these abundant business opportunities and it is already doing so, as I notice that this year’s instalment of ITB Asia carries a stronger focus on Asian destinations and venues.
- I am heartened to note that interest in ITB Asia remains strong, with a higher number of National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) and a higher number of exhibitor organizations participating this year. I would like to congratulate Messe Berlin for successfully staging this milestone tourism event once again in Singapore for Asia’s benefit.
- I am confident that ITB Asia will continue to grow in strength and stature as the region’s leading tourism trade show to attract even more travel professionals and visitors from all over the world.
- On this note, I wish all delegates a very rewarding and fruitful time at ITB Asia and, and our visitors from overseas, an enjoyable stay in Singapore.
- End -
1Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2009
2Asian Development Bank Chief Economist Jhong-Wha Lee, 22 September 2009 Press Release
3VISA & PATA Asia Pacific Travel Intentions Survey. Determining Travel Preferences for 2009 and Beyond