Singapore eyes full pandemic recovery by ‘mid-2025’

Singapore hopes to hit pre-pandemic visitor numbers “by mid-2025” as it outlined plans to recover more sustainably.

The Asian city-state opened its borders in April and four months later dropped its seven-day quarantine requirement for non-vaccinated arrivals and indoor mask-wearing requirement.

The restrictions were eased with a view to boosting the number of visitors to the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix in October, which was the most well-attended race in the country’s history.

Around 302,000 spectators came to the Marina Bay Street Circuit during the three-day event.

Keith Tan, chief executive of Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said: “Our aim is to get to pre-Covid levels across the board by mid-2025. This year we expect to hit six million. We had 19 million visitors in 2019.”

He added that inbound tourism generated around 28 billion Singapore dollars (£17.19bn) in 2019.

As of October 26, Singapore had welcomed 153,000 British visitors to the city-state country. “That is about 30% of what it used to be,” Tan added. “If we can get back to 70% or 80% by the end of the year that would be great.”

Sustainability is one of the STB’s focuses as the world emerges from the pandemic. Tan explained: “We believe tourism has to take a major step forwards showing the world that it’s acting responsibly.

“If the tourism industry is seen as a laggard or a contributor, the public perception will turn very quickly against tourism.”

Singapore’s goal is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. “We’re talking to the airline and cruise industries about decarbonisation,” he added. “Also imagine a net-zero carbon Formula 1 race?”

The Singapore Green Plan 2030 lays out the country’s sustainability targets, including 550 hectares of nature parks, 820 miles of cycle networks and the planting of a million trees – all by 2030.

The 350-room Pan Pacific Orchard – Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts hotel’s first zero-waste property – will open in the city centre in 2023.

On business travellers, Tan explained how the recovery had so far been slow. “Final hand shakes and introductory hand shakes can be replaced by Zoom and good riddance,” he said, adding how in 2019 2.47 million visitors came to the country for meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions in pre-pandemic year.

“We’re focusing on higher value proposition events such as conferences. We want to grow that number because it has huge value for us when you bring a critical mass to Singapore.”

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