Singapore tourism may be worse hit than expected by virus

Published March 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Bloomberg

Singapore is bracing for a harder hit to tourism than initially expected from the coronavirus as the outbreak spreads to more than 100 countries, impacting global travel plans, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said.

Singapore has clamped down on visitors from China in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but will allow the countries airforce to take part in a popular air show (AFP / Roslan RAHMAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Now it’s really the fact that there’s a global spread of this virus and therefore we will have to reevaluate certainly the numbers,” Iswaran said in an interview Wednesday.

Just last month, Singapore’s tourism chief forecast that tourist arrivals and spending could drop by 25% to 30% this year because of the outbreak, making it worse than the 2003 SARS pandemic.

The city-state is losing about 18,000 to 20,000 tourists a day and that could plummet further if the situation persists, Keith Tan, chief executive officer of Singapore Tourism Board, said in mid-February.

With the economic fallout expected to grow, Singapore is already mulling another round of aid for businesses.

Unveiling its 2020 budget last month, the government pledged S$6.4 billion ($4.6 billion) in dedicated support, including a S$4 billion stabilization package.

A second support package may be introduced if necessary, local media has reported, citing Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat. Singapore isn’t ruling out tapping its past reserves for that purpose, the Business Times reported, citing Heng.

Iswaran, who is also Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, declined to elaborate when asked about the scale of any second support package on Wednesday.

“We are prepared to do more, but it has to be a response to the situation,” he said.