The tourism sector of Singapore has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to how air travel was changed by the 9/11 event, COVID-19 will change tourism as well, Minister for Trade and Industry (MTI) Chan Chun Sing said on his Facebook page on Wednesday (29 April).
In his post, Mr Chan noted that he had participated in a Special Video Conference Meeting of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers regarding COVID-19 on Wednesday. Mr Chan said he had had a fruitful discussion with the other ministers on how ASEAN can combat the pandemic decisively and collectively via the information exchanges and sharing of best practices as well as coordinated and timely actions.
“To recover, beyond the help schemes for the tourism industry in our respective countries, Singapore also shared the need to work on three issues collectively,” he stressed.
The first issue, Mr Chan said, was to bump up and harmonise the health and hygiene standards of the tourism industry so that countries can be mutually assured and to boost confidence in the region.
The next point was on drawing strength from connectivity and being aware of weaknesses among the collective.
Mr Chan said, “Secondly, as we jointly promote Southeast Asia as a regional destination and draw strength from our connectivity; we must also be aware that any weak link amongst us will affect the perceptions on all of us collectively.”
He added, “We must maintain the connectivity of our air, land and sea links and preserve the landing rights with respective members.”
Third issue mentioned by Mr Chan is the need to shore up each country’s common infrastructure and technology capabilities, in areas like the adoption of digital systems and contact tracing to facilitate travel. This will in turn boost tourism recovery efforts, he noted.
It is more important than before that countries support each other as an interconnected ASEAN in their efforts to combat COVID-19, Mr Chan said. He said that not only are all countries cooperating to handle the crisis, but they are also making plans for the post-pandemic future recovery in order to restore social activities, normal business, tourism and connectivity in ASEAN.