STB Predicts Impact of Covid-19 On S’pore Tourism To Be 1.5x Worse Than Sars

With more than 110,000 people infected with COVID-19 and more than 3,800 deaths, it is no wonder that COVID-19 is all we can talk about these days.


Despite the bulk of it coming from China because that’s where the coronavirus is said to have started from, many other countries are starting to report even more cases in their own countries, and some even have the number of people infected hitting well above 5,000.

Previously, South Korea was said to have the highest number of cases outside of China at 7,382.

But Italy is close behind after 1,492 new cases were reported yesterday along with 133 more deaths, bringing their national total to 7,375 cases and 366 deaths.

Businesses have been affected, and tourism has been impacted severely as more countries are putting out travel advisories and bans in an attempt to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in their country.

Singapore, too, has suffered greatly due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and it seems that we are suffering a greater loss than when we had the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak back then.

Travel Advisories Against Singapore

The Health Ministry of Thailand has now included Singapore, Japan, France, and Germany in their travel advisory to their people after only declaring China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Italy, and Iran as “dangerous communicable disease areas” last Thursday.

Dr Thanarak Phaliphat, deputy director-general of the Disease Control Department, said during a press conference, “As more countries have been affected by COVID-19, Thailand will have a higher risk of imported COVID-19 cases. Currently, we’re trying to adjust our measures to handle the higher risk.”

This also comes after Thailand’s announcement that visitors entering Thailand from countries hit by the virus are recommended to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Only undocumented Thai workers coming back from South Korea will be quarantined in government facilities.

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Not The Only One

Thailand is not the only one that is warning against travel to Singapore.

In early February, Kuwait, Qatar, South Korea, and Israel also told their citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Singapore after our DORSCON level was raised to orange.

Indonesia and Taiwan also warned their citizens and told them to take precautions if they were visiting Singapore.

Britain advised travellers returning from Singapore to monitor their health and to minimise contact with others for 14 days after their return.

In late February, India urged its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Singapore.

Image: Giphy

Singapore’s Tourism Industry

Singapore has also taken a few precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, including travel restrictions of our own. For example, all new visitors who have travelled to China, Iran, Northern Italy, and South Korea within the last 14 days have been denied entry or transit through Singapore.

But with the COVID-19 outbreak, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) estimates that there will be a 25% to 30% fall in visitor arrivals this year if the highly contagious virus continues to spread globally.

Who would dare to travel at this time and risk getting infected with COVID-19? 

This estimation is steeper than the 19% drop in 2003 when Singapore experienced the Sars outbreak.

According to STB chief executive Keith Tan at an annual year-in-review last month, Singapore has been losing 18,000 to 20,000 international visitor arrivals on average every day because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The total number of international visitors who came to Singapore from 2008 to 2018. Image: Budget Direct

18,000 to 20,000 tourists a day may not seem like a lot, but for Singapore where we’ve had year-on-year increases in tourism, this 25% to 30% drop is a lot.

We can only pray that this outbreak will end soon and that we will be able to pull through.


Meanwhile, if you are healthy, locals should head out to enjoy the deals and promos offered by businesses in a bid to survive the fall.

Don’t worry, the SG Clean logo will tell you where it’s clean and safe, and businesses are now, more than ever, diligent in making sure everything’s clean.

After all, being tagged as the next cluster of Singapore will probably do them in.


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