SINGAPORE - Singaporeans aged 18 and above will be able to redeem their $100 SingapoRediscovers Vouchers and check their balance online starting Dec 1.
Physical counters will be set up across the island to help those in need of assistance.
From Dec 1 to June next year, eligible users can browse and book staycations, attraction tickets and local tours through five online booking platforms: Changi Recommends, GlobalTix, Traveloka, Trip.com and Klook, in partnership with UOB Travel Planners.
The vouchers can be spent on approved hotels, attractions and tours, but cannot be redeemed for retail shop purchases or food and beverage. Vouchers can only be redeemed for cruises as part of a bundled package.
A bicycle tour of the Pulau Ubin rainforest and Chek Jawa Wetlands and hotel stays bundled with attraction tickets are among the products that will be available for booking, STB said.
Eligible products will be marked with the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers icon, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said on Monday (Nov 23) in providing details on the redemption process.
After selecting a product, users will have the option of using the vouchers - which come in denominations of $10 - at the checkout page. They will then be redirected to a Government website to verify their identity with SingPass and select the value of vouchers to use.
A voucher code will be generated, which must be entered at the checkout page of the booking website. The vouchers will be redeemed once a booking is complete.
SingPass data will not be shared with external booking partners, STB said, urging those without a SingPass account to register for one before Dec 1.
This is the first national digital-only voucher scheme to be rolled out by the Government, STB's chief executive Keith Tan said during a virtual media briefing on Monday, describing its development as a monumental task.
From Dec 1, users can check their SingapoRediscovers voucher balance and activate child/youth subsidies at this website.
All eligible Singapore citizens will receive a letter by then with information about the redemption process, STB said.
Those who find it difficult to use digital vouchers can visit any of the 69 physical counters set up across the island by the booking platforms for assistance.
Most will be located at community centres or within a five-minute walk from them, STB said. Booking counters will also be available at selected malls and SingPost locations.
People can also call a hotline if they have queries related to the vouchers.
The vouchers are non-transferable and resale is not allowed, STB said. It added that it takes a serious view of abuses such as fraud, profiteering and resale of the vouchers, and will monitor their usage to ensure they are used for their intended purpose.
Those who abuse the voucher scheme may have their vouchers forfeited, and may even be referred to the police, STB said.
The $320 million voucher scheme, announced in August, is a major thrust of the domestic campaign to keep Singapore's struggling tourism sector afloat amid pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Mr Tan said during a virtual media briefing on Monday that more than 200 merchants have signed up to offer products for redemption so far.
More deals will be rolled out through next June, he said, urging Singaporeans not to rush to use the vouchers.
"We have designed the redemption process to be safe, easy and inclusive for all Singaporeans, and we hope that they will take this opportunity to support tourism businesses while rediscovering what they love about Singapore," Mr Tan said.
STB said during the briefing that it appointed third-party booking sites as redemption platforms to include as many merchants as possible and to ensure sound cyber security practices.
“The intent is really to help represent hundreds of these tourism businesses at scale, and a lot of the small merchants who may not have their own booking system. This is the fastest way to get it up and the most wide-reaching to be inclusive of all these businesses,” a spokesman said.
The platforms also add value by providing physical booking counters and services such as shuttle buses for seniors, STB said.
Each of the five booking sites will have different offerings, giving consumers a similar experience to shopping for a holiday, it said.
Asked why there is no unified booking platform, the spokesman explained that it was because the different booking platforms have different focuses and commercial terms.
Booking sites are expected to promote a diversity of merchants, the tourism board said, adding that listing arrangements will be worked out directly between platforms and merchants.
Merchants will have to pay a commission to the booking platforms, STB said, adding that it helped to secure a “much lower range of commission rates” for all merchants, though it declined to disclose the range. This will not result in extra fees for consumers, it added. For more information, visit this website.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.