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Singapore had 880 visitor arrivals in May 2020, down from 1.49m in May 2019: STB

SINGAPORE had just 880 visitor arrivals in May 2020, as the country remained closed to short-term visitors to stem the risk of importing Covid-19 during the second month of its "circuit breaker" period.

Although visitor arrivals slowed to a trickle from the 1.49 million arrivals in May 2019, the average length of stay for each visitor ballooned to 51.7 days, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Friday. Before February, the average length of stay was four days.

The figure in May 2020 was, however, a slight improvement over the 750 visitor arrivals in April. The average length of stay then was 39.1 days.

On the whole, year-to-date visitor arrivals was 2.7 million in the first five months of the year - a plunge of 65.7 per cent.

The government took the unprecedented step to bar short-term visitors from entering or transiting in Singapore from March 24, in view of the heightened risk of importing coronavirus cases into Singapore.

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While Singapore residents and long-term pass holders could return to the country, they had to serve a 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) at dedicated facilities like hotels. This rule applied only to returnees from the US and UK initially, but was eventually expanded to cover all returnees on April 9.

In May, the standard average occupancy rate in hotels was 57 per cent, an improvement over April's 40.3 per cent. The rate for May 2019 was 82 per cent.

With hotels used as dedicated SHN facilities during the circuit-breaker period from April 7 to June 1, they have been barred from offering staycations, a rule that continues even into Singapore's phased reopening.

However, a separate STB advisory on Friday said hotels may now apply to STB to resume such business activities, with Singapore now in Phase 2 of its reopening. They may now seek permission to reopen recreation areas for children and provide accommodation to guests for the purposes of leisure.

However, they would have to present a plan for safe-management measures.

"These plans will have to be tailored to the specific nature of operations in each hotel, and potential risk factors arising from localised factors such as the hotel’s physical premises and layout, environment, scale of hotel and typical guest behaviour," STB said in its advisory.

"Hotels must also address key outcomes in their application to reduce potential transmission risks and support contact-tracing efforts," it added.

Risk factors for hotels to consider include proximity between guests, propensity for crowds to form, level of activity and number of high-touch surfaces, it said.

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