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With the Covid-19 pandemic still ongoing in many countries and borders still closed, tourism has been severely impacted. As a small country in South East Asia that is not resource-rich, Singapore cannot afford to shut its borders for a long time. We find out how Singapore Tourism Board is using creative and innovative ways to promote Singapore as a travel destination to remain top of mind once borders reopen.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck Singapore a year and a half ago, the Singapore Tourism Board has been focused on finding smart and sensitive ways to keep Singapore top of mind once borders reopen and leisure travel resumes.

The organization has never exited the global markets in any way, and instead ensured it can adapt itself in the market. For example, if a country is exiting lockdown protocols, STB will figure out how it can talk about Singapore as a potential travel destination.

Speaking to The Drum during our Creative Transformation Festival 2021, Lynette Pang, assistant chief executive in the marketing group at Singapore Tourism Board, explains STB launched the Singapore Reimagine campaign late last year, a campaign that pushed the organization harder to reimagine and catalyze innovation and experiences for visitors.

“For Singapore Reimagine, first and foremost, is really about what are the new experiences Singapore can offer, and how can Singapore cater to the needs of the traveler? Because there will be new needs, and there will be increased sensitivity too, for example from sustainability to wellness. And of course, how can we excitingly tell the Singapore story?” Pang explains.

“This was like a rally theme for us to work on our marketing. But what we have also done is when it comes to Singapore Reimagine, I would say that there are a few prompts to it. One, of course, at the baseline of it, would be safety. I think when folks are ready to travel in the new norm, safety would be key. It would be a key requirement – so for us, how do we reimagine safety? How can safety be frictionless, and be a good experience?”

She adds: “Because potentially, safety can bring with it a lot of friction points – there are more checks, more things you need to do. But we are asking ourselves, by working with digital partners, as well as with the industry, how can we turn potential friction points into a moment of delight? Reimagining the safety experience for our travelers, that’s one key thing.”

In addition, STB had to reimagine technology with travel. It had to figure out how to leverage technology to make it bigger, better, faster and smarter, and make it seamless and fun.

For example, when it comes to robot mixologists and baristas, it had to think about contactless technology and cleaning robots to make the experience safe.

STB also wanted to blend physical and digital, as is becoming the new norm. It did this by blending virtual experiences, especially for leisure events and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice).

“The past year and a half, the Singapore Mice industry, together with various associations, has broken a lot of new ground from setting up handbooks to setting up a lot of tested events, and pioneering new technologies and hybrid technologies. Whether it is spaces or ways to run a hybrid event, there has been a lot of work there, and I am very excited to see how that will be taken to the next level, and a new norm,” says Pang.

“Reimagination is really about reimagining the city and nature, especially with sustainability in mind. Our goal is about aiming to be the world’s most sustainable urban nature destination. We are not there, but I think Singapore has always been a garden city since day one of its existence. As a whole-of-government strategy, we are working towards a city in nature. We have articulated our green plan with very clear objectives and quantifiable goals.”

STB believes in times to come, Singapore will be a key sustainable urban nature city, and that is something that it is very excited about. Pang points to research that has shown that travelers are increasingly sensitized and are placing a greater emphasis on sustainability when they travel.

“Numerous studies have shown that they are actually willing to pay a little bit more so that they travel sustainably. This is an area that STB is investing a lot in to work with the tourism industry on,” she says.

Pang spoke with The Drum’s Shawn Lim as part of Creative Transformation Festival 2021, an online event not just for creative leaders but for those on the front line, the next generation of creative talent, and the teams in media and tech that together will shape the big ideas and best campaigns of the future.

Sign up to watch forthcoming sessions and see the full Creative Transformation Festival schedule here.