MBS, Las Vegas Sands commit US$1m for bond-free hospitality scholarships

MARINA Bay Sands (MBS) and its parent company Las Vegas Sands have jointly pledged US$1 million to a new bond-free scholarship programme that is set to benefit more than 100 Singaporean students pursuing hospitality or tourism-related courses.

The Sands Hospitality Scholarship programme will be open to students from 6 Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) in Singapore - Nanyang Polytechnic; Ngee Ann Polytechnic; Republic Polytechnic; Singapore Polytechnic; Temasek Polytechnic; and the Singapore Institute of Technology.

To be eligible, applicants will have to be enrolled in a course starting from 2023 and for a duration of at least 3 years. Scholarship recipients will be able to use the funds for expenses such as tuition fees, course materials and overseas immersion programmes.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between MBS, Las Vegas Sands and the 6 IHLs on Monday (Aug 29). The event was graced by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan.

With tourism seeing strong recovery globally, Singapore is "ready to capture tourism's upwind in our sails", said the minister. "At the heart of these new and exciting developments in our tourism landscape are ultimately our people. People make a difference, especially in our tourism and hospitality sector."

In a news release, MBS said the scholarship programme is part of its efforts to support the hospitality industry's workforce development. The integrated resort (IR) currently employs close to 10,000 people, of which two-thirds are local.

On why the programme was made bond-free, MBS chief operating officer Paul Town said this was done to "stimulate interest" in the hospitality industry, rather than specifically to MBS. "I think it's absolutely critical... to bring out more emerging talent after the pandemic."

As one of Singapore's largest hospitality players, the IR is "always on the lookout for the brightest talents to join us in our next stage of growth", said Town.

Ron Reese, Las Vegas Sands' senior vice-president of global communications and corporate affairs, noted that Singapore's "resilient tourism industry" is expected to grow robustly with international travel resuming.

"By investing in education to help youth establish careers in hospitality, we are supporting the future of our industry and Singapore's continued leadership as a top global travel destination," he said.

Asked what jobs are most in demand now with the tourism recovery picking up speed, Town said housekeeping and food and beverage workers are still most in demand across the hospitality sector. "The... reason why they're so critical is because they really are the engine room of a property. If you don't have capacity and housekeeping, you literally are potentially closing sections of your hotel and then limiting the tourism visitation into Singapore."

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