The tourism industry plays an important role in enhancing Singapore’s position as a dynamic global city that attracts investments, businesses and talent. Encompassing a wide variety of tourist attractions, travel agencies, hotels, restaurants and transportation services, the sector contributes 4% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and serves as a cornerstone of Singapore’s vibrancy.
From 2007 to 2019, the trajectory of international visitor arrivals paints a remarkable picture of growth, with total international visitor arrivals charting an average annual growth rate of 4.5%. The sector also creates a multiplier effect as it increases the demand for goods and services in many other industries, such as retail and dining.
However, with the onset of COVID-19 in 2019, the tourism industry suffered a devastating impact due to travel restrictions in view of health concerns. By July 2020, the repercussions of the pandemic were evident: international visitor arrivals fell by a staggering 76% year-to-date.
The pandemic’s impact extended beyond the tourism industry into adjacent industries, such as retail and dining. Thus, we can see how tourism serves as an economic catalyst that creates a ripple effect influencing demand for a wide array of goods and services.
The Resurgence of Singapore’s Tourism Industry
Despite the closure of borders during the pandemic, the hospitality and tourism industry proved to be resilient through redefining and transforming the definition of tourism altogether. Staycations were birthed during the pandemic and the world witnessed a shift in the consumer’s behaviour and mindset towards tourism and hospitality which supported hotels in increasing their occupancy rates through promoting domestic tourism. This was further incentivised by the SingapoRediscover vouchers which were issued to each adult Singaporean citizen, contributing S$300 million to the industry.
As the pandemic situation improves this year, the world embarks on a path of recovery, and Singapore has also reopened its borders to all visitors. The tourism industry has also steadily regained its momentum. This year, international visitor arrivals to the country are projected to reach 12 to 14 million, with full tourism recovery expected by 2024. Receipts from tourism are also expected to reach $18 to 21 billion. These bullish numbers came on the back of Singapore’s international visitor arrivals in 2022, which saw 6.3 million visitors, exceeding the Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) forecast of 4 to 6 million.
The tourism industry will receive a significant boost through an infusion of $110 million, which forms part of the Government’s allocated $500 million fund dedicated to improving the industry and helping both business and leisure events throughout 2023 and 2024.
At the same time, STB will also expand its partnerships with an extensive line-up of events all year round, and also increase investment in new and refreshed products and experiences, according to its chief executive, Keith Tan.
The Role of Large-Scale Sporting and Music Events
Large-scale sporting and music events, such as Formula One and concerts by Blackpink, Taylor Swift and Coldplay respectively, are playing a vital role in the recovery of the visitor numbers. In May this year, some 50,000 fans of Blackpink thronged the National Stadium, a good number of whom are visitors from Philippines and Malaysia. Hannah Pearson, director at Pear Anderson, a travel market research organisation focused on ASEAN, told South China Morning Post that Swift’s and Coldplay’s concerts have increased interest in Singapore from all over the region. Also, when Taylor Swift’s six shows in Singapore went on sale, online travel platform Agoda noticed that demand for accommodation in the country soared.
Besides sports events and music concerts, corporate events are also a key driver of growth due to Singapore’s location and state-of-the-art event infrastructure, which is suitable for all types of industry shows and exhibitions. One example is the 25th World Congress of Dermatology, which took place in July 2023 and attracted more than 12,000 people from 130 countries.
Increased Job Opportunities in Tourism Industry
The revival of the tourism industry and the increase in the number of large-scale events have led to an increased demand for skilled professionals in various sectors, from event planning and management to hospitality and customer service. In particular, urban wellness and sustainability will form key parts of Singapore’s tourism offerings in the next decade, as these new roles are needed to cater to the increased environmental consciousness among tourists and support economic recovery.
According to STB, the overall tourism industry employs about 65,000 people in 2022, and this number is expected to grow rapidly to meet the growing demand for workforce across a range of tourism-related industries and services. With close to 4,000 job openings in the tourism industry, including roles in sustainability and urban wellness, Singapore’s tourism sector is positioning itself to bounce back even stronger than before.
Meeting the Demand for Skilled Professionals
As the tourism industry charts its course towards recovery, and the demand for skilled professionals surges, together with tourism-oriented companies intensifying their recruitment efforts, there are rich opportunities for students who are interested to pursue a career in the tourism sector.
If you’re one of them, you can consider the Diploma in Tourism and Hospitality Management course from PSB Academy. Accredited by the Institute of Hospitality, this diploma course will be your guide to the intricate landscapes of tourism, leisure and hospitality, providing you with an understanding of the industry’s concepts and how you can apply them to real-world scenarios in tourism and hospitality businesses. Upon completion of this course, you can even advance your studies with a degree in tourism and hospitality.