Singapore has not been spared from the impact of the Covid-19 viral outbreak, as evidenced by the country’s Ministry of Healthy announcement on Monday (17 Feb) that 24 people had been discharged from the hospital and 77 cases of the virus confirmed.
The epidemic has also impacted Singapore’s tourism sector. According to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), 19.1 million tourists visited the country last year, which was a 3.3 per cent rise compared to 2018. However, for 2020, the number is predicted to fall around 25 to 30 per cent due to the outbreak.
At the Year-in-Review 2019 and Media & Trade Gathering event on Tuesday (18 Feb) in Jakarta, the Southeast Asia Executive Director of the STB, John Gregory Conceicao commented that “Every day, Singapore loses 20,000 tourists from all entrances [following the virus outbreak].”
When the outbreak first began, Chinese tourists made up of 20 per cent of Singapore’s international tourists arrival. After China, the second highest international tourists arrival came from Indonesia with 3.11 million tourists travelling to Singapore in 2019.
According to the Indonesia Area Director of the STB, Mohamed Firhan Abdul Salam at the same event on Tuesday, the country now applied travel restrictions for visitors coming from China, including direct flight going to and returning from China: . “It’s among the measures to contain the situation in Singapore,” Mr Firhan remarked.
In spite of the epidemic, the country still proceeded with “business as usual”, Mr Firhan added. Surgical masks were given to the public, particularly to those who are unwell, and thermal scanning were conducted at all entrances to the country.
Contact tracing has also been adopted by the country. Contact tracing procedure traces any individual who has interacted with another person who has been infected with Covid-19 virus, for further medical check-ups.
Mr Firhan also advised that “travelers practice personal hygiene: wash your hands, wear masks if you’re sick and go to the doctor if you feel any symptom of fever and coughing” but all tourist spots in Singapore were still open to the public.
New tourist destinations have also become accessible, such as the rejuvenated Jurong Lake District and Orchard Road, a new tower at Marina Bay Sands as well as Magical Shores at Siloso in Sentosa Island which showcases interactive beach light art.
Mr Conceicao opined that the country’s recovery will take longer than the recovery from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003 which took approximately five months for recovery: “Maybe it will take five to six months. We’ll see whether we can recover by then,” and the STB is looking to work together with online travel agents, airlines and travel agents to promote the country for tourism when the recovery period tapers off.