SINGAPORE (Mar 26): Singapore is putting in place measures to help workers and businesses in the tourism industry, which have been ravaged by a ban on international visitors amid efforts to curb the number of imported coronavirus cases.

In a Ministerial Statement on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat noted that tourism-related industries have had a “difficult time”.

“We will also set aside $90 million to help the tourism industry rebound strongly, when the time is right,” Heng said.

This is part of the $48 billion Supplementary Budget to support workers and save jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hotels, travel agencies, tourist attractions, cruise terminals and operators, as well as Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions (MICE) venue operators will get a total of 75% wage offset,

The qualifying monthly wage ceiling will be raised to $4,600, from the $3,600 previously announced in the Budget Speech in February.

“In addition, sectors that involve a high level of human interaction will take a hit from the recently announced safe distancing measures. We will also support them accordingly,” Heng said.

Even before the tourist ban, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran had earlier this month said Singapore is bracing for a harder hit to tourism than initially expected.

This came after Keith Tan, chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said in a media conference in February that visitor arrivals for 2020 is estimated to drop by up to 30%.

Tan had warned that the Covid-19 situation was “quite possibly worse” than during the SARS outbreak in 2003.