THE Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is putting S$20 million into a global marketing campaign timed to coincide with the Great Singapore Sale and targeted at seven countries in a bid to boost flagging tourist numbers.
The Golden Jubilee campaign, so named as Singapore marks its 50th year of independence this year, is the result of the STB working with industry companies to line up attractive promotions for prospective tourists.
The invitation to visit Singapore will go out in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam, which are deemed markets with "high conversion potential". Market-specific campaigns, based on research and focus-group findings, have already been launched in China and the Philippines.
Lynette Pang, STB's assistant chief executive, said: "We're intensifying our marketing. We have intensified our efforts, not just in working with local partners, but also with in-market trade partners."
For the STB, the Golden Jubilee is thus as much about celebrating Singapore's 50th birthday as it is about its partnerships with the attractions, retailers and hotels, she added.
The campaign microsite is hosted on the STB's YourSingapore website. Built on the five "pillars" of "fly, stay, shop, eat and play", the microsite features deals and experiences to pique potential visitors about these facets of Singapore.
"We asked ourselves: 'How can we rally the industry, and how can we work with them more to help the business?'" Ms Pang said, citing one of the offers - that of a "Stay two nights, third night free" promotion with participating hotels across different tiers.
More than 30 hotels will offer the promotion by June 9, she said.
Although the Great Singapore Sale ends on July 26, the campaign will continue with its promotions, although they have yet to be revealed.
"In Phase 2, you will see new plans, new merchants, new offers coming on board, across all pillars," she said. Details will be unveiled later.
STB is also working with travel website TripAdvisor to create a "Live Like a Local" page in its Singapore section. It will feature a curated list of lesser-known destinations for tourists, as well as user-written reviews and recommendations.
The page is currently accessible through TripAdvisor's Australian, Indian and Malaysian websites, which were chosen on the basis of high web traffic from these countries, said an STB spokeswoman.
TripAdvisor has also begun workshops to help local business owners boost their online presence. These classes teach merchants how to list themselves on the website, improve their rankings and encourage their customers to write reviews.
"The next step, of course, will be to ensure that Singaporeans who have been to the establishments will review them," Ms Pang said.
These efforts are part of a strategic marketing plan to bring in visitors and reinvigorate the slowing tourism scene. Last year, visitor arrivals dipped for the first time since 2009, falling by 3.1 per cent to 15.1 million.
STB's forecast for this year's international visitor arrivals is a modest zero to 3 per cent, though reports for the first quarter put year-on-year growth at -6.1 per cent.
Ms Pang said: "This is going to be an extremely challenging year."
Factors beyond control that have hit the tourism industry include the depreciating rupiah, which has discouraged Indonesians from travelling out of their country, though they have clocked more miles in domestic travel.
She disclosed that the STB's marketing efforts would not end, come 2016. Without revealing next year's budget, she said: "We will continue with our marketing strategy. What we're doing in the markets will continue ... It's important for us to make sure that consumers are constantly aware and inspired.
"Moving ahead, this could be the new norm and the pace at which we do our work."