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    Apr 26, 2016

    S'pore tourism gets a $700m booster shot

    CHINESE tourists in Singapore tend to make a detour to temples before visiting the integrated resorts.

    While one can only hazard a guess at the reason, more of such insights, pieced together by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), could help tourism players better understand the behaviour of travellers.

    Yesterday, Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said the Government was giving the tourism industry a $700 million boost for the next five years until 2020.

    Among its other uses, the fund will tap on big data to gain insights about visitors' behaviour - like the Chinese tourists' propensity to visit temples before casinos.

    The money will also be used to attract and train industry professionals and grow the cruise industry, Mr Iswaran added.

    Speaking at a tourism industry conference, he said the last two years have been challenging. Last year, visitor arrivals grew a modest 0.9 per cent to 15.2 million, while tourism receipts fell below expectations, dipping by 6.8 per cent to an estimated $22 billion.

    While keeping an eye on long-term growth opportunities, the industry needs to be able to deal with short-term volatility, he said.

    The STB will ramp up marketing efforts in secondary cities in China, Indonesia and India, and explore newer markets like Myanmar, said its chief executive Lionel Yeo.

    It is also enhancing a fund aimed at attracting business travellers. The latter, on average, spend double that of a leisure traveller.

    Also in the works is a central hub where businesses can give information about their offerings so travel agencies and aggregators can plan tour packages more efficiently.

    STB's chief technology officer Quek Choon Yang said the aim is to transform Singapore into a single, unified "mega-attraction", enabled by a one-stop mobile application where visitors can get the information and services they need.

    Ngee Ann Polytechnic's senior tourism lecturer Michael Chiam, who attended the conference, said the challenge is getting industry players to share their data.

    He added: "The mindset behind it is that we're all interconnected... and if we can pool data together, it'll be better off for all of us."