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PostSubject: Plans to boost tourism   Plans to boost tourism Icon_minitimeThu Feb 12, 2009 12:26 am

Plans to boost tourism
By Lim Wei Chean, Correspondent

Plans to boost tourism Ln-sg-plans
Aptly named BOOST (Building on Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism), the plan aimed to help the dwindling Singapore's tourism sector 'overcome the clear and present challenges. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

SINGAPORE, expecting tourism revenue to dip further this year, on Wednesday rolled out details of a $90 million plan to boost the sector which has been hard hit by the global economic downturn.

Aptly named BOOST (Building on Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism), the plan aimed to help the dwindling Singapore's tourism sector 'overcome the clear and present challenges', said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran on Wednesday morning.

Speaking at the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) Tourism Industry Conference here, Mr Iswaran said 2009 would be a challenging year for the global travel industry as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation had projected that global travel would either remain flat or decline by 2 per cent.

Tourist income will likely fall to between $12 billion and $12.5 billion this year from S$14.8 billion last year, the STB said in a separate media briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

The board expects tourist arrivals to drop to between 9 million and 9.5 million in 2009 from 10.1 million in 2008.

The government plans to spend the $90 million this year on marketing, training and lower fees for travel agents in a bid to attract visitors, more than the $30 million spent on advertising in 2003, when an outbreak of the SARS virus slowed tourist arrivals to 6.1 million.

'The year ahead will be difficult and challenging,' said Ms Aw Kah Peng, STB's chief executive. 'But it's not a complete closure as in SARS. People are still traveling.'

STB on Wednesday launched a '2009 reasons to enjoy Singapore' global marketing campaign aimed at offering visitors attractive travel packages and promotions to visit Singapore.

As part of this year-long campaign, locals and foreigners alike can take advantage of a raft of special packages, discounts, shopping credits and attractive prizes to shop, dine and enjoy Singapore this year.

STB is targetting four regional markets - China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia - and also capture the million transit passengers from Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom at Changi Airport.

Businesses in the tourism industry can also tap on funding to send staff for training, get discounts on travel agent licence fees and tourist guide fees. Singaporeans are not left out too as they get a chance to visit local attractions like the Singapore Flyer, Jurong Bird Park and Singapore River cruises.

To encourage locals to spend at home, retailers like the Wing Tai Group, Metro and OG will waive GST charges every weekend from Feb 14 to March 1. Ms Aw said STB will also leverage online media and viral marketing channels such as Facebook to reach out potential travellers to Singapore.

She said special deals and promotions would be offered to the netizens including the 'Fly on Us' campaign that offers $500,000 worth of free air tickets to Singapore, as well as S$10,000 cash to be won monthly from Feb 19.

STB's $90 million Boost complements the government's recently unveiled $20.5 billion Resilience Package, which contains measures to save jobs and help viable companies stay afloat. Tourism businesses in Singapore can tap on the broad-based schemes under the Resilience Package, as well as others that are directly relevant to the tourism sector.

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