relates to Singapore Changi Reinvents Itself for Return of Business Travel

Source: Changi Airport Group

Singapore’s Changi Airport, rountinely voted the world’s best and a key part of the city-state’s psyche, is reinventing itself for the Covid era and beyond.

In a bid to keep people engaged until life returns to normal, it’s offering glamping for families at Jewel, the nature-themed entertainment complex open to the public, as well as a host of holiday offerings from canopy park tours that involve topiary walks and bouncing on a sky net, to seasonal dining menus.

relates to Singapore Changi Reinvents Itself for Return of Business Travel

Dino Kart race track at Terminal 4.

Source: Changi Airport Group

With an eye further into the future, slices of the nearby Singapore Expo site are being transformed into a giant construction site as 840 guest and meeting rooms are built in short order — part of [email protected], a sprawling facility to house overseas business visitors as part of a bubble initiative.

“There are more people, especially on weekends,” said Jasmine Hoon, a server at Paris Baguette, a coffee shop in Jewel selling upmarket pastries and wraps. “Sales have gone up and the vaccines are also giving people hope.”

Nearby, children start making themselves at home in large white tents erected as part of the airport’s Glampcations in the Clouds initiative. People can stay overnight amid the greenery and wake to the sound of splashing water from the world’s largest indoor waterfall. Prices start from S$320 ($240) and slots have been fully booked for weeks.

The camping and holiday dining deals may be temporary measures but they’re all part of endeavors aimed at spurring activity at Changi, whose importance to the tiny city-state is hard to underestimate. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was close to tears when he promised Parliament in September that “Changi will thrive again,” citing its opening in 1981 as a moment of immense national pride.

relates to Singapore Changi Reinvents Itself for Return of Business Travel

Glamp tents at Jewel Changi Airport Cloud9 Piazza.

Source: Changi Airport Group

Because international visitors are such an enabler of other economic activity across the island — including food and beverage, retail and healthcare — it’s tough to calculate to what degree the closing of borders has hobbled Singapore’s economy. According to government figures, aviation alone accounts for about 3{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} of gross domestic product, with tourism contributing another 4{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49}.

As 2021 dawns, Singapore’s success containing Covid is allowing it to open for business travel adapted to virus-era life, including convincing the World Economic Forum to move its annual jet-set meeting from Davos. While a return to pre-virus traffic is still far off, the green shoots are a welcome sign for a place synonymous with global trade and travel.

“If you think about the role of Singapore as a regional hub and the whole idea of connectivity and logistics facilitation, then Changi is quite critical,” said Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.

Gone Quiet

Covid has interrupted Singapore’s steady climb in international visitors

Source: Singapore Tourism Board

Changi Airport, typically Asia’s third-busiest hub for international traffic, has like all aviation centers experienced its fair share of pain. Passenger numbers plunged to 24,500 in May, just 0.4{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} of what they were 12 months prior. They recovered to 111,000 in November, but that’s still down around 98{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} on 2019 levels.

The 13 square kilometer airport (five square miles) on Singapore’s easternmost point is operating two of its four terminals and has halted construction of a fifth for at least two years. Some retail outlets in the public and transit areas remain closed due to a lack of foot traffic.