Singapore’s tourism sector experienced its “toughest year on record” in 2020 due to unprecedented global travel restrictions and border closures amid the Covid-19 pandemic, announced the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
According to official data, visitor arrivals plummeted 85.7 per cent to 2.7 million, down from 19.1 million the year before. Nearly all of these arrivals were in the first two months of 2020, said STB.
"Singapore’s tourism sector has had to fight for survival in 2020," STB chief executive Keith Tan said. "STB remains confident in Singapore’s position as one of the world’s safest and most attractive leisure and business destination, and the long-term prospects of Singapore’s tourism sector."
Tourism receipts also fell 78.4 per cent to S$4.4 billion in the first three quarters of 2020, the tourism board added.
As Singapore’s economy gradually re-opened in the second half of 2020, the tourism sector faced a new challenge; working out how to resume operations safely while providing meaningful customer experiences. STB engaged industry stakeholders to develop their re-opening proposals and implement the necessary SMMs. As of 25 January 2021, 45 attractions, 270 hotels, and 1,686 tour itineraries have received approval to resume operations.
Even with the development of several COVID-19 vaccines, it will take time for mass leisure travel and traveller confidence to return, said STB, adding that tourism arrivals and receipts are expected to remain “weak” this year.
"In 2021, STB will continue to support quality tourism businesses to sustain key capabilities and build new ones, and to innovate in order to meet evolving consumer needs and emerging travel trends once cross-border travel resumes in a significant way," the release said.