Singapore is taking a page out of Macau’s playbook by issuing its residents tourism vouchers.
Earlier this year, Macau, the world’s richest gaming hub that relies heavily on tourism and its casinos, issued each adult resident a 3,000 patacas ($375 USD) voucher good to spend on anything within the Chinese Special Administrative Region. Singapore has unveiled a similar program, albeit in a modified way.
Three government agencies — the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Enterprise Singapore, and Sentosa Development Corporation — announced SingapoRediscovers in July. At the time, the Southeast Asia island city-state government set aside SGD$45 million (US$33.75 million) to promote domestic tourism.
The funds helped hotels and tourism-related businesses offer better promotions, including staycations and mini-holiday excursions. With COVID-19 continuing to limit international travel, Singapore is now issuing free money to residents to spend at hotels and casino resorts.
International visitor arrivals into Singapore are down 83 percent in 2020 through October. Hotel room revenue is down more than 58 percent. Marina Bay Sands has 2,561 guestrooms. Resorts World Sentosa offers 1,500 occupancies.
Singapore has set aside SGD$320 million (US$240 million) to fund SingapoRediscovers vouchers. Each adult resident over the age of 18 qualifies for an SGD$100 voucher (US$75).
The vouchers can be used for attractions, hotels, and tours throughout Singapore. Singapore’s two integrated resorts — Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa — are among the more than 200 merchants that have signed up for the SingapoRediscovers program.
Singaporeans can use their credits for overnight stays at either casino resort. However, the vouchers are no good on the gaming floors. They also cannot be used to pay entry fees to access the casinos (citizens and residents in Singapore must pay entrance fees to gamble).
Along with hotel stays, the vouchers are good for other attractions at the integrated resorts.
At Marina Bay Sands, they can be used for the ArtScience Museum, and access to the SkyPark Observation Deck. At Resorts World Sentosa, the vouchers are good for Universal Studios, S.E.A. Aquarium, Dolphin Island, HeadRock VR, and Trick Eye Museum.
The SingapoRediscovers program runs through June 30, 2021.
Singapore has largely isolated itself from the outside world amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has the lowest case fatality count globally, with just 29 deaths among the more than 58,000 people who have become infected with the virus.
However, this week Singapore’s Ministry of Health confirmed two people carrying the coronavirus recently visited Marina Bay Sands. The individuals were together at the casino resort on November 21 between 12:40 pm and 5:30 pm local time, and again on November 27 between 2:20 pm and 7:00 pm.
Both Marina Bay Sands and RW Sentosa were forced to close on April 7 to slow the spread of COVID-19. They were permitted to reopen on July 1 under reduced capacities and strict health safety protocols.