THE Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and vacation rental marketplace Airbnb have joined hands to drive "authentic" travel experiences in Singapore and encourage tourism industry players to pivot towards hybrid business models.
Under a two-year memorandum of understanding inked on Thursday, both parties will promote and grow a range of online and in-person experiences - such as virtual tours, cooking classes, meditation workshops and nature walks - hosted by locals.
STB and Airbnb will also market Singapore as a travel destination to global audiences, as well as facilitate data and knowledge exchange to enable effective recovery.
To kick off the partnership, the two organisations have launched Singapore Virtual Trips, a collection of online experiences featured on a dedicated landing page on the Airbnb platform.
This page will also provide Singapore destination content, for international travellers to "explore the country virtually" while border restrictions are still in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For starters, the Singapore Virtual Trips include a sustainability-themed tour at Gardens by the Bay's Cloud Forest; a visit to Peranakan home museum, The Intan; an interactive bingo tour of the one-north tech precinct; and a walk through Old Kallang Airport.
STB and Airbnb said they expect more industry partners to join the initiative, which is meant to encourage Singapore tourism businesses to take their products online and adopt innovative, hybrid business models.
In the future, the two parties will also onboard in-person Airbnb experiences across categories such as dining, nature, wellness and the arts.
"Aimed at the long-term development of the Singapore experiences sector, both parties will work with local tourism industry partners to continuously offer differentiated and fresh experiences to travellers," they said in a joint statement. The tie-up aims to help local entrepreneurs leverage the economic benefits of experience-driven travel.
For the marketing aspect of the partnership, the tourism board and Airbnb will jointly produce a line-up of co-branded content featuring destination Singapore and Airbnb Experiences.
Such content will also be made available to travel industry partners via STB's Tourism Information and Services Hub.
"These efforts are especially critical in driving effective recovery as international travel restrictions ease," said Airbnb and STB.
They will also offer destination information, tools and benefits to Airbnb Experiences guests. These include exclusive offers that the guests can unlock by signing up for the VisitSingapore app.
In terms of data and knowledge exchange, both parties will mutually share insights and best practices to grow experience offerings in Singapore and help the industry recover.
To kickstart this, Airbnb Experiences has invited STB to access its data-sharing platform, City Portal. The platform was built for governments and tourism organisations, to equip them with travel insights and other relevant resources.
Exchanging such data and knowledge will see both parties gaining a deeper understanding of the evolving traveller profile, so they can onboard more targeted Singapore experiences and refine tourism products and services in this new environment.
STB chief executive Keith Tan said: "As travel gradually resumes, we want to focus on strengthening Singapore's brand image in the minds of audiences around the world, and ensure that our destination remains top-of-mind."
He added that the initiative will give passionate hosts in Singapore a platform to reach out to travellers globally, while helping these hosts innovate and explore new business models.