SINGAPORE, March 1 — In a bid to boost Singapore’s lifestyle offerings and draw more tourists here, the Government will be adding more than S$300 million to the Tourism Development Fund, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan today.

The fund — which was set up in 2005 — will boost the tourism industry through upgrading the skills of workers in the industry, rejuvenating existing tourism offerings and adding new experiences to the country’s slate of tourist attractions.

Mr Tan, who is also Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, was speaking during a debate on the 2024 budget of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

TODAY has reached out to MTI for more details on the current size of the fund since its last extension through a four-year tranche.


Today, Mr Tan said Singapore received 13.6 million international visitors in 2023, which is about 71 per cent of the visitors in 2019. Tourism spending for the first three quarters of 2023 reached 98 per cent of the same period in 2019.

This recovery is due to a slew of initiatives, said Mr Tan, including new tourist attractions such as Bird Paradise at Mandai Wildlife Reserve, signature events such as Formula One, and live entertainment events like K-pop girl group Blackpink, and popular singers Ed Sheeran, Jacky Cheung as well as “a particular act that is currently taking Singapore by storm”.

He was referencing pop star Taylor Swift, who is set to kickstart her six-day The Eras Tour concert on Saturday.


He also noted that Singapore’s meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) industry made a strong comeback after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We remain confident in our tourism sector. This year, we expect international visitor arrivals to reach between 15 and 16 million visitors and bring in approximately S$26 billion to S$27.5 billion in tourism receipts,” said Mr Tan.

On Feb 20, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth (MCCY) said that the Government had supported Swift’s upcoming The Eras Tour concert.

This came after Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin claimed that Singapore had offered Swift US$2 million (S$2.7 million) to US$3 million a show in exchange for exclusivity in Southeast Asia.

The authorities did not name which grant was used or what conditions were attached to the grant due to business confidentiality. It is not clear if the grant comes from the Tourism Development Fund.

Nevertheless, STB and MCCY stated that Swift’s concert “is likely to generate significant benefits to the Singapore economy, especially to tourism activities such as hospitality, retail, travel and dining”.

TODAY previously reported that the Swift deal is likely the first time the Government has included exclusivity clauses for an artiste, though government grants are relatively common in the industry.

More investments, new experiences

Responding to several questions fielded by Members of Parliament on facilitating tourism recovery to pre-pandemic levels, Mr Tan said that MTI will do this through investments and developing a “pipeline of high quality and first-of-its-kind experiences in Singapore”.

On investments, Mr Tan said the more than S$300 million top-up to the Tourism Development Fund will “develop and market new products and experiences, including supporting local enterprises in developing new intellectual properties, rejuvenate existing tourism offerings, upskill tourism workers, and help our local tourism companies become more productive and innovative”.

According to the STB website, the fund comprises three schemes:

Tourism Product Development Scheme to support the creation or rejuvenation of tourism products

Tourism Event Development Scheme to support lifestyle and business events in Singapore

Tourism Capability Development Scheme to support productivity and talent development in the tourism sector

Mr Tan said the fund has helped more than 100 local tourism businesses become “more productive and sustainable” and introduced several attractions and lifestyle events in Singapore, such as a new Disney Cruise Line ship.

These attractions and experiences will be launched in the coming years to help Singapore remain as a popular tourist destination, he added.

Joking that he is Parliament’s “in-house guide”, Mr Tan added that Sentosa’s Sensoryscape, a multisensory pathway, will be soft-launched this month and is one of such events in the pipeline.

Singapore will also play host to several Mice events this year, such as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Global Conference — the first in Singapore.

“We can expect more notable live entertainment and Mice events when MBS’ (Marina Bay Sands) expansion is completed in 2028,” added Mr Tan.

The integrated resort will build a fourth tower housing 587 hotel rooms, a 15,000-seat entertainment arena and a public rooftop attraction, among other facilities.

MBS was given until April 2024 to begin work on the project, and its completion deadline was extended to April 8, 2028 — three years after its original 2025 deadline.

Another boost to Singapore’s tourism is the Singapore and China mutual 30-day visa exemption that started on Feb 9 this year, said Mr Tan.

“This has made it easier for Chinese visitors to travel to Singapore, and we expect this to boost arrivals and spending across our retail, food and beverage, and tourism-related sectors,” he said.

“As we continue to put Singapore on the map, we welcome people from all over the world — not just as a tourist destination, but also as a business hub.” — TODAY