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Singapore's supplementary budget supports cruise terminals and cruise terminal operators. Pictured here: Marine Bay Cruise Centre

Singapore positions to support cruise tourism revival

New budget measures announced Thursday reinforced Singapore’s commitment to tourism-related industries, including cruising.

Support for travel agencies, cruise terminals

The supplementary budget provided support for workers’ wages in travel-related businesses, including travel agencies, cruise terminals and cruise terminal operators, and extended a 50% concession on port dues for passenger vessels until Dec. 31.

Co-funding for local cruise line employees

For every local worker employed by firms in the aviation and tourism sectors, which are the most badly affected sectors, the government will co-fund 75% of their wages. This means cruise lines get 75% of wage support for their local employees.

The government also pledged to 'set aside $90 million to help the tourism industry rebound strongly when the time is right,' said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during the budget announcement in Parliament.

The measures are part of a $48bn Resilience Budget package that complements the government’s mid-February budget, which committed $6.4bn to bolster the island nation against the effects of COVID-19.

Singapore Tourism Board confident in cruising's future

Annie Chang, director, cruise, Singapore Tourism Board, said in an email: 'While it is still too early to determine the full extent of COVID-19’s impact on Singapore’s cruise industry, we remain committed to supporting our industry stakeholders and remain confident in the future outlook of our cruise industry.'

Chang outlined efforts STB will undertake to help revive cruise tourism when the market rebounds, including supporting cruise lines that have invested in Singapore, strengthening consumer demand to sustain healthy occupancy and yields for ships, and building cruise agent skills to sell cruise packages effectively.

Using this downtime to help agents skill up

'We are exploring how we can leverage on this downtime to ramp up training and accreditation for travel agents,' Chang said. 'Given that 80% of cruise packages in the region are sold through travel agents, and cruise is a nascent product, this would be a good opportunity for travel agents to skill up.'

At home, STB will be ensuring operational and infrastructure readiness of terminal operators in preparation for recovery, while around the region the tourism board will focus on galvanizing regional governments towards restoring popular Southeast Asian itineraries in the recovery phase.

As lead coordinator for the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan, Singapore collaborates with relevant authorities and industry stakeholders to develop and enhance cruise-related infrastructure so cruise lines can continue to offer new and exciting itineraries from Singapore, and promote Southeast Asia as a cruise destination.

'Southeast Asia has witnessed positive results with a growing presence of international cruise lines in the region,' Chang said. 'We believe this positive trend will continue for the cruise industry in the region as we bounce back from COVID-19.'

Further measures

In light of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the cruise industry, STB is providing enhanced support to cruise lines that have committed to Singapore deployment through Cruise Development Fund partnerships and a new reimbursement process to make it easier and faster for partners to receive these funds.

CDF provides support for cruise lines, including those with ships homeporting in Singapore, and in-market travel agents in their cruise marketing efforts in Singapore and overseas.

The tourism board will continue to support cruise vessels that require marine services such as bunkering, resupply and repairs in the Port of Singapore, at anchorage.

STB is also working closely with Singapore’s National Environment Agency and other agencies to roll out an 'SG Clean' campaign to reassure the public that local businesses including cruise terminals maintain high standards of cleanliness and sanitation.

Last month, a Tourism Recovery Task Force comprising tourism leaders from the private and public sectors was set up to help identify opportunities arising from the COVID-19 crisis, drive measures to co-create recovery plans and instill confidence in Singapore’s tourism sector, including helping homeport cruises.

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