Rahul Sachitanand
Sep 18, 2020

Singapore Tourism Board, Visa ally to aid battered SMEs

Companies to focus on joint research and analytics as well as marketing partnerships to help small businesses in the market.

A deserted street in Singapore's Chinatown area. (Shutterstock)
A deserted street in Singapore's Chinatown area. (Shutterstock)

Visa has signed a three- year pact with with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to address the needs of Singapore’s SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in the tourism and lifestyle space that have been impacted by COVID-19. The collaboration focuses on two strategic areas to revive the local tourism industry: joint research and analytics and marketing partnerships.

As international travel gradually resumes, the organisations said, they will scale up their partnership to include joint international marketing, with insights derived from their combined research. The aim is to develop marketing strategies to help Singapore businesses capture demand once global travel resumes.

STB had previously tied up with Mastercard for a separate partnership under the City Possible program, to address challenges faced by Singapore's tourism industry. This program would focus on new joint technologies and sharing data such as spending patterns to help the sector pivot to new audiences and improve the visiting experience for post-Covid travellers.

“Local tourism and lifestyle businesses contribute significantly to the vibrancy of a city like Singapore. STB and Visa both want to help such businesses to survive and succeed in the new environment," says said STB chief executive Keith Tan in a media statement. "We hope to help them develop new digital capabilities and transform their businesses." 

Source: STB and Visa

STB and Visa will combine proprietary data, as well as research and analytical capabilities, to derive insights on how COVID-19 has changed domestic and international consumer behaviour. These insights will be shared with small business owners to help them build their own campaigns. “COVID-19 has greatly disrupted the way we live, shop and pay, and businesses need to keep pace with changing consumer behaviour and spending patterns,” Visa country manager for Singapore and Brunei, Kunal Chatterjee, explained in the statement. “We will work with STB to revive inbound tourism when borders reopen ... together, we aim to drive more support towards local businesses through our WhereYouShopMatters initiative.”

To kickstart the data and research collaboration, STB and Visa have produced a report to provide insights for local SMEs. Called 'Impact of COVID-19 on Tourism in Singapore and the Road to Recovery and Transformation', the report found that local brands are worst hit by the pandemic, experiencing double-digit negative growth.

Source: STB and Visa

In the first phase of their marketing partnership, STB and Visa will develop a domestic marketing campaign to raise awareness of local SMEs, while driving domestic consumption through Visa cardholder promotions.

To launch the first phase in October 2020, both organisations will use their campaigns—#SingapoRediscovers and #WhereYouShopMatters—to encourage Singaporeans to shop at local retailers and support the domestic economy. SingapoRediscovers, a joint campaign launched in July by STB, Enterprise Singapore and Sentosa Development Corporation, supports local lifestyle and tourism business by encouraging locals to patronise local enterprises. WhereYouShopMatters was introduced in August by Visa to encourage consumers to support local SMEs. 

In the second phase when international travel resumes, both organisations will launch international marketing campaigns to increase awareness of local brands and experiences in Singapore. STB and Visa will focus on the impact the pandemic has had on business travel. A study is expected to help identify changing behaviours, new trends and growth opportunities and sharpen Singapore’s competitive edge as a global business destination. 

These campaigns will be rolled out in phases in key countries based on the respective market’s readiness to travel. STB and Visa will also testbed initiatives to drive incremental spending through cross border e-commerce and harness new opportunities for local tourism and lifestyle SMEs.

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