Many businesses relying on tourism witnessed a significant drop in patronage, forcing some to reduce the wages of their senior staff while others take on a wait-and-see stance on how they would ride out the slump.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses relying on tourism witnessed a significant drop in patronage, forcing some to reduce the wages of their senior staff while others take on a wait-and-see stance on how they would ride out the slump.
This comes as the temporary travel ban imposed in February on tourists who recently visited mainland China has been extended to all other tourists on 22 March in a bid to prevent Covid-19’s spread.
Justine Victoria, manager of ice cream café J-Cone Jipangyi at Merlion Park, is worried of her job security, given the lack of tourists at the park and the café’s slow business.
Victoria, who is from the Philippines, revealed that her fellow Filipino workers at the Singapore River Cruise had lost their jobs, reported Today.
In responding to queries, the Singapore River Cruise confirmed that a few Filipino employees have been let go, without providing the exact number.
Other measures taken by the company included lowering the number of working hours of boat captains, said See Toh Yew Leong, General Manager at Singapore River Cruise, adding that the company also took this opportunity to upskill its staff.
A 33-year old Singaporean boat captain, who wished to remain anonymous, said that while he is happy to be able to keep his job, he is worried on how he would support his two children now that his working hours have been slashed from 12 hours per day to six hours daily.
“We definitely rely on tourists. Singaporeans may have taken this ride before and aren’t likely to return again,” he said.
Tenants at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) are also facing a similar plight.
Fashion retailer Philipp Plein said business fell by at least 20% since Chinese New Year as locals only make up about 30% of its clientele.
Adrian Lim, Vice President of Operations and Marketing at Philipp Plein, revealed that Chinese nationals account for the bulk of the retailer’s overseas customers.
“Now the strategy will have to change. We will have to focus a little more on the local market,” said Lim.
An MBS spokesperson said the firm is “actively assisting (the) retailers during the ongoing Covid-19 situation”, with various measures, such as rent payment instalment plans, rental rebates, shorter trading hours as well as additional marketing support “rolled out progressively in a targeted and tiered manner”.
“We are working hand in hand with retailers to boost foot traffic to the mall and roll out a full suite of tactical marketing measures and shopping incentives catering to a wide range of demographic groups across our different retail categories,” added the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the managerial staff at Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which overlooks operations at the Night Safari, the River Safari and Singapore Zoo, experienced a pay cut of up to 15% in early February as part of the company’s measures to lower operating costs.
“Disruption to international tourism (during the Covid-19 outbreak) is expected to be a protracted one and our corporate focus is to keep jobs,” said Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Life Sciences Officer for WRS.
While critical functions which oversee animal care continue with full resources, WRS have scaled down on retail, food and beverage as well as ticketing operations, due to the sharp decline in park visitors, he added.
Park attendance plunged 60% to 70% over the past two months across WRS’ parks. He noted that China is one of WRS’ top markets, accounting for 15% of the parks’ total guests.
“In the meantime, we are leveraging the government’s stimulus package for staff training as well as providing boarding and accommodation for our Malaysian colleagues who chose to stay on in Singapore,” said Dr Cheng.
Robert Yong, a manager of Hard Rock Cafe at Resort World Sentosa (RWS), said the only crowd he has witnessed recently was when they held a St Patrick’s Day promotion.
The promotion, which gave diners a free beer for every purchase of a burger, ended on 22 March.
A Singapore Exchange filing on 17 March by Genting Singapore, the operator of RSW, stated that the group “is keeping a close watch on the development of the Covid-19 outbreak”. It has also reduced executives’ pay and directors’ fees, while adopting certain cost control measures.
These include a 15% percent cut in non-executive directors’ fees for Q1 2020; 18% cut in executive directors’ base salary; and a 9 to 18% cut in all its managerial staff’s base salary. The group also encouraged its employees to take a no-pay leave and/or annual leave.
Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email firstname.lastname@example.org