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S$20m marketing fund among new STB support schemes amid Covid-19

A MARKETING fund, transformation tools and training programmes are among new measures to support the tourism industry during the circuit breaker and to help them prepare for recovery, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said on Friday.

The S$20 million Marketing Partnership Programme will fund part of the marketing costs for tourism businesses, and award additional funding to those that collaborate with other tourism players "to create experiences that add greater value to visitors".

With the Covid-19 pandemic having halted global tourism, "it is essential for tourism businesses to maintain their international presence, and build demand for when the market recovers", said the STB.

Phase 1 of the programme was launched for hotels on April 2020, with funding support for half of qualified marketing costs. In Phase 2, funding support will be increased to 70 per cent of qualified marketing costs; the programme will be extended to attractions, in-bound travel agents and the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) sector.

Applications for Phase 2 open in early May, and applicants can send an e-mail to this address.

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There is also the S$2 million SG Stories Content Fund, for local and international creators of digital video content, supporting the creation of "compelling stories of strength, resilience, solidarity and unity in Singapore".

The fund will support 90 per cent of qualifying costs capped at S$150,000 per project, including creative development and conceptualisation, production and execution, and marketing and distribution. It complements separate funding support from the National Arts Council and the Infocomm Media Development Authority.

Applications for the fund will be open from May 1 to 31. All filming activities must adhere to prevailing safe-distancing measures, which means that all outdoor filming will be prohibited during the current circuit-breaker period.

The STB is also developing tools to help tourism businesses go digital. In the second quarter of the year, the Tourism Transformation Index will be launched, to help companies self-diagnose their current state of transformation and identify the next steps they can take. Companies can indicate their interest to participate here.  

The STB will be opening ThreeHouse, a dedicated innovation space located on the statutory board's premises, for companies to collaborate and test new ideas and solutions. Details will be announced at a later date.

On the new Singapore Tourism Analytics Network, industry players can access tourism-related data aggregated from STB and the industry, view  visualisations and perform data analysis, as well as exchange data.

On the training front, STB Marketing College has partnered digital firms such as Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to develop web-based training for the industry. These include a free webinar series produced by Facebook, with the first episode to be streamed on April 30; Google and UOB have redesigned the SME Leadership Academy programme to focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in retail and tourism.

To help travel agents with cashflow during this period, the STB has reviewed the legislative framework to find areas where regulatory compliance costs could be reduced, "after careful assessment that the risk to consumers is significantly lower during this period".

From April 8 till Dec 31, the minimum financial requirement for travel agents will be reduced by 90 per cent. All travel agents may also submit auditor-certified accounts in lieu of an audited statement of accounts for the financial year ending on or after March 1, 2020.

STB chief executive Keith Tan said these STB measures complement other forms of government aid, adding: "This is the toughest period that Singapore tourism has ever faced, but we will stand together with the industry to get through this, and prepare for the eventual recovery."

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