Ladies and Gentlemen
- I am pleased to join you this morning for Tourism Industry Conference (TIC) 2011. This is an important platform for STB to share its plans with the industry. It also brings together industry partners to discuss how best to tackle the challenges,and capitalise on growth opportunities, that lie ahead.
2010 - A Record Year for Singapore’s Tourism
- Last year was exceptional for Singapore tourism. We welcomed an all time high of 11.6 million visitors, a 20 per cent increase from 2009. Our tourism receipts rose by 49 per cent to hit a record of S$18.8 bil
- More significantly, there was broad-based growth across sectors. Shopping, accommodation, F&B, medical, sightseeing and entertainment all registered double-digit growth in tourist expenditure.
- Our suite of new and exciting tourism products including the Integrated Resorts, Formula One night race, Asia Fashion Exchange (AFX) and TravelRave have also raised our international profile. I am pleased to note that in the Travel andTourism Competitiveness Report released by the World Economic Forum1 recently, Singapore emerged top in the Asia- Pacific region, and was ranked 10th out of 139 world economies for competitiveness of the tourism sector.
Our Long-term Challenges
- Our achievements would not have been possible if not for the collective effort of the industry, our tourism workforce and government agencies. We can build on this momentum only if we squarely face, and take proactive steps to deal with, the long-term challenges posed by a competitive regional landscape and the constraints on our growth. First, many of our regional competitors are aggressively building new tourism capabilities and investing in theme parks, eco-tourism sites, cruise terminals and MICE facilities. Second, we must recognise our constraints with respect to land and labour, on which the tourism sector is heavily reliant.1
Three Tourism Strategies
- Taken together, these imply that we must focus on, and reinforce, our strengths while moving away from sheer quantity to yield and value capture as the norm for our tourism sector.To raise our game, we need to work on three strategic thrusts:
(i) innovation; (ii) integration; and (iii) productivity.
- We need to continually push for product and process innovation to meet the rising expectations of sophisticated and affluent travellers. Some shopping malls have launched new services to target premium and High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs). For example, malls such as ION Orchard and Mandarin Gallery offer concierge services to personalise the shopping experience. I understand that these have been well received.
- Innovation can also come about by invoking new approaches and concepts for existing tourism products. The Jewel Cable Car Ride is an excellent example. After a $36million upgrade, it re-opened in Jul 2010. The cabins are now larger with panoramic views and enhanced accessibility. For those seeking something more, there is also the 7-star VIP jewelled cabin with Swarovski crystal elements.
- The second thrust of our strategy has to be integration. The tourism industry is one of the most diverse in Singapore, with offerings from hotels, travel agents, attraction owners and MICE service providers. With more visitors expecting a hasslefree one-stop service, it is important that we integrate our products and services to enhance the visitor experience and to promote cross-selling.
- The collaboration between Suntec and Resorts World Sentosa is a good illustration. This partnership allows clients to conduct their exhibitions and day meetings within the central business district at Marina Bay, and continue with social functions at Resorts World Sentosa. This arrangement gives business visitors a more diverse and attractive range of venue options. Such alliances strengthen our value proposition in attracting companies to host events in Singapore.
- Out attractions have adopted a similar collaborative model. The “See Singapore Attractions Pass”, launched in December last year, offers unlimited visits to 20 attractions including the Singapore Flyer, Night Safari and Singapore River Cruise. The pass holder can also enjoy discounts and other perks at participating restaurants. Taking this a step further, the “Go Singapore Pass” created by Ez-link and other major attractions facilitates both entry into attractions, and transport around Singapore.
- The final thrust in our strategy is to enhance our productivity, and consequently our competitiveness. We have to promote productivity at all levels - the sector, the enterprise, and the individual. Indeed, productivity will be a point of focus for the hospitality sector this year. Working with the industry, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) have formulated a hotel productivity plan which will be rolled out later this year. The plan will include working with hotels to increase customer satisfaction, operational efficiency and productivity in the organisation. The formulation of such productivity plans will be extended to other tourism-related sectors in the near future.
- Beyond sectoral and enterprise level initiatives, we have to also raise individual productivity. This means lessening our reliance on low-skilled workers, and upskilling our local workforce. To this end, our institutions offer a variety of programmes to ensure a pool of readily available talent for the industry. For example, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) has a series of collaborations and tie-ups with internationally-renowned institutions such as the Institut Paul Bocuse in France.
- Increasingly, we also need workers to be multi-skilled. As such, we have rolled out a number of Continuous Education and Training (CET) programmes under the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework to develop multiple competencies and capabilities, which will complement their core jobs and drive productivity.
- From a macro perspective, Asia is set to become a strong growth engine for global tourism. According to the UNWTO 2, Asia was the strongest growing region in 2010. For 2011, the number of international tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific region is expected to grow by seven to nine per cent2.
- Singapore is well-placed to tap this growth. With innovative ideas, san integrated approach within the industry and greater productivity, we can ride on Asia’s momentum and position ourselves for the next phase of growth. A pipeline of exciting projects such as Gardens by the Bay, River Safari, International Cruise Terminal and the National Art Gallery will come on-stream over the next few years. Supported by our investments in software to enhance productivity and quality, we should be on track to achieve STB’s forecast of between 12 to 13 million visitor arrivals and S$22 to S$24 billion in tourism receipts in 2011.
- I urge all of you in the industry to continue working with the STB in forging creative partnerships, solutions and processes that will bring more value for our visitors and your companies. I wish you a fruitful and productive conference.
- End -
1World Economic Forum, Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2011:1
2World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO,” International Tourism 2010: Multi-speed recovery”