Plugging into what the visitors really want
A NEW $15 million fund is set to breathe life into the tourism industry here, with several tourism-related associations keen to tap on it.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) launched the Association Development Fund (ADF) yesterday, aimed to help the industry's associations "rally their members to capture higher-value business opportunities, drive capability development initiatives, and create authentic tourism experiences in their precincts", said Mr S. Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry, who announced it at the annual Tourism Industry Conference.
The new fund is open to all Singapore-registered tourism-related associations - including precinct associations in charge of managing districts like Orchard Road and Chinatown - to help them develop capabilities like training, technology, and brand and market development.
STB will co-fund up to 70 per cent of the cost of these initiatives.
Already, the Association of Singapore Attractions (ASA) and the Society of Tourist Guides (Singapore) (STGS) have told My Paper that they would definitely be tapping on it.
Others, including the Asia Cruise Association (ACA), Art Galleries Association of Singapore, and Sentosa HabourFront Business Association, are considering sending in an application.
Grand plans are afoot.
The ASA wants to tap on the fund to finance an industry-wide study on visitors' expectations and design a survey to gather feedback from visitors on their experiences here.
The data will then be used to inform members of their specific service gaps, said ASA chairman Kevin Cheong.
He said that ASA has not been able to embark on such projects in the 23 years it has been around due to the lack of funding and the risks involved in such heavy investments.
"Projects like the industry-wide survey are much needed, but ASA has no immediate revenue stream," he said.
"Therefore, we cannot partake in such projects as it will mean diverting our much-needed resources away from other important activities like day-to-day operations."
Associations such as the ASA typically get their revenue from membership subscription and training fees. Most of this money is for administrative and marketing costs, and to organise events, with little left for other projects.
The STGS wants to use the fund to bid for the right to host the International Convention of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations, which is held every two years in a different country and attracts about 200 participants; and the ACA hopes to tap on it to "raise the awareness of the cruise industry of Singapore in South-east Asia," said its general manager Kevin Leong.
Such plans, it seems, are in the right direction.
The STB hopes that the ADF will help associations increase their membership, revenue, activities and initiatives.
STB's assistant chief executive, Mr Yap Chin Siang, said: "A lot of tourists are looking for authentic and differentiated experiences... That's where a precinct can play a very significant role in the way they curate their offerings, tell their story and brand themselves which plays a very important role in affecting the destination choice of a potential traveller."