STB Staycations can’t fill the hole

STB Staycations can’t fill the hole image credit: Straits Times, LIM YAOHUI

While the Singapore Tourism Board has announced that hotels can start applying to the government to allow staycation packages within the hotels, it can seem daunting when you realise that the tourism industry brought in almost US$20 billion (S$27.7 billion) in revenue last year and there will still be a huge loss for the industry.

"Unless we have a return to international business, the hotel industry is going to be decimated as up to 90 per cent of our bookings come from international travelers," said Michael Issenberg, chief executive officer of Accor's Asia-Pacific unit, the largest hotel operator in Singapore, in an interview with Straits Times.

This can be due to several reasons, such as the fact that Singaporeans prefer to wait until regional travel opens and they can go to other countries at a cheaper cost instead of going to the hotel down the street.  Many locals like teacher Najeer Yusof prefer to save their money and wait for travel to resume in nearby hot spots like Thailand and Malaysia rather than spend it on a hotel down the street.
"There's more to see and experience overseas at a cheaper cost," said Yusof, in an interview to the Straits Times. "There's also the "awe factor - getting to see or experience something I won't otherwise be able to in Singapore, like the mountains and national parks in Indonesia and activities like diving and surfing".

Though the country of 5.7 million people has reopened its economy after a lockdown of more than two months, its borders are still largely closed. It recorded a historic low of just 750 foreign visitors in April, down from 1.6 million in the same month last year. May's numbers weren't much better, at 880.

"In the short term, hotels, eateries and attractions can reorientate to draw interest to staycations, attractions or food discounts," said Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. "However, our inherent small domestic market size implies it may not be a longer-term sustainable solution."

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