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Opening Address at Hotel Human Capital Conference 2023

Dr Tan See Leng, Minister for Manpower, PARKROYAL on Beach Road

Mr Chris Teo, Chair, Hotel Human Capital Advisory Committee and 2nd Vice President, Singapore Hotel Association

Mr Keith Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board

Ms Julia Ng, Assistant Chief Executive, Workforce Singapore

Ms Julie Cheong, President, Food, Drinks & Allied Works Union

Ladies and Gentlemen


1. Good morning to all of you. I am very happy to be here at the 2023 Hotel Human Capital Conference. 

2. A very big thank you to the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) for having me, and for organising this conference with the support of Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU).

Pressing on with Transformation

3. I would like to start off by commending everyone for the resilience, and to thank you for the support that you had provided to all of us in government and the whole country during the COVID-19 pandemic. The hotel industry has indeed undergone significant transformation over the last few years. For example, we saw many hotels scale up the adoption of tech solutions to improve productivity during the downtime. Hotels have used STB’s Tourism Transformation Index (TXI), to assess where they stand in their transformation efforts on use of data, innovation, processes, and technology vis-a-vis their peers. And from there, they were able to derive targeted insights, and took deliberate actions to pivot and to transform.  

4. Such business and workforce transformation efforts helped the entire hotel industry to rebound strongly when international travel resumed. From April to December 2022, the Average Room Rate was $260 and the Revenue per Available Room was $206, which surpassed the pre-pandemic figures in 2019. Looking at the latest figures from the first three months of this year, hotels have maintained the momentum – the Average Room Rate increased to $272 and Revenue per Available Room to $211.

5. Barring any unexpected and unforeseen circumstances, we expect tourism activity to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2024. STB estimates this year’s visitor arrivals to reach about 12 to 14 million, and tourism receipts to be around S$18 to S$21 billion. To sustain growth and meet consumer demand, the hotel industry must press on with efforts to continue to transform and build up capabilities. The Government will continue to give our unwavering support. 

6. Last year, STB launched the refreshed Hotel Industry Transformation Map (ITM). It sets out the strategies to achieve a competitive, innovative and sustainable hotel industry – one that is underpinned by a future-ready workforce, powered by fresh and innovative concepts and technology, with long-term sustainability as a competitive advantage for hotels, the industry and ultimately for Singapore as a destination. 

Launch of Hotel Jobs Transformation Map 

7. Today, I am pleased to launch the Jobs Transformation Map for the hotel industry (or Hotel JTM for short). The Hotel JTM is jointly developed by the Singapore Tourism Board and Workforce Singapore, and is supported by SkillsFuture Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower, the Singapore Hotel Association and the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU).

8. The Hotel JTM identifies the impact of trends and technologies on job roles within and in the adjacent industry and recommends strategies that businesses can adopt to transform jobs. It also outlines the critical skills workers would require as existing roles evolve, and new ones emerge. It complements the Hotel Industry Transformation Map (ITM), and helps the hotel industry prepare your workers for future job roles as the industry embarks on the next phase of growth.

9. I want to add on that all of you in this industry are our almost first and last point of contact with tourists, foreign visitors and foreign investors coming into our country. As ambassadors, you have multiple touch points with the tourists, the short-term visitors who stay in your hotels, on your facilities. 

10. As we improve on the ITMs and the JTMs, this gives us the extra edge in anchoring significantly higher and more foreign direct investments into our country. Hence, this is a very critical and quintessential role that all of you will be able to contribute and help, as our country continues to transform and move forward in our Forward SG exercise and in our economy.

11. With this, the major shifts which all of you – hoteliers and the hotel industry in general – must respond to are threefold:

  • First, technology as a key growth enabler. 
  • Second, rising environment consciousness intensifying scrutiny of the industry’s sustainability commitments.
  • Third, the changing, evolving workforce profiles and your workers’ aspirational needs, expectations and concerns, which lead to a more nuanced, precise way of developing career progression amidst the increasingly competitive landscape for talent.  

12. With these shifts, there will be significant room for new job roles in the “Hotel of Tomorrow”: 

  • For example, an emerging role identified in the JTM is that of a sustainability specialist - someone who is adept and responsible for evaluating sustainability standards, developing sustainability roadmaps for the hotel, and helping the hotel to maximise revenue in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. I know that many industry players have already incorporated elements of sustainability within existing job scopes, and I certainly hope that more will do so. For instance, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore have hired a new officer to further its sustainability journey, and to translate these sustainability efforts into increased business value. 
  • Hotels can also bring onboard business intelligence analyst to build and use business intelligence tools and technologies to drive business development, sales and marketing strategies. Far East Hospitality has built a data analytics team to reap greater return on investments on their digital marketing initiatives through predictive analytics and data mining. 
  • Yet another example of an emerging role is that of the place maker, who will design unique experiences in spaces within and beyond the property that will build meaningful connections with guests. Mondrian Singapore Duxton has hired a professional to curate precinct programming in partnership with its neighbours, which would enhance guest experiences and even unlock additional revenue streams.

13. Apart from creating new and exciting job opportunities, I encourage employers in the industry to consider how you can continue to enhance and instill the excitement in the existing roles so that you can attract new talent and better retain experienced workers.

  • For example, Front Office and Guest Relations Officer will experience extensive job redesign, using technologies such as mobile check-in and e-housekeeping applications that can automate most of the daily mundane tasks which are performed today. How we therefore make the best use of our very limited human capital resources by either multi-skilling or refocusing our existing talent pool in terms of nudging them to think of how to provide higher value-added personalised guest experiences is the order of the day.
  • Employers and workers must continue to pursue job redesign, upskilling and reskilling, to seize opportunities and tackle challenges as the industry continues to transform.

14. The Government and tripartite partners will always stand ready to provide support and resources to employers and workers in this journey of jobs transformation and skills upgrading. We want workers to take on better jobs with higher pay and better career progression. 

  • Employers can tap on NTUC’s Company Training Committee (CTC) Grants to co-fund your transformation plans on raising productivity, redesigning jobs and improving work prospects.
  • The Career Conversion Programme (CCP) for Tourism Professionals, which was launched by WSG in February this year, will prepare workers to take on emerging job roles in the industry. Employers can tap on the CCP to uplift existing job roles, reskill existing workers and recruit mid-career individuals to take on the redesigned or emerging roles in some of these growth areas.
    • WSG’s volunteer Career Advisors (vCA) Initiative is also available for those who are interested to join the hotel industry or who are already working within the industry but would like to learn more about what other adjacencies, career progression prospects, developments and new opportunities are available.
  • Employers and individuals can also tap on Tourism Careers Hub for advice on business transformation and job redesign as well as seek career guidance from career coaches and industry professionals. Last year, over 500 jobseekers found new jobs through this platform for the Tourism industry. The list goes on, and we are open to more suggestions, feedback, and ideas from industrialists like yourselves to see how we can continue to improve the outreach.

Strengthening HR capabilities to support Transformation

15. In the journey of workforce transformation, HR plays an important role in redesigning job roles and equipping workers with the required skills. 

  • As recently announced under the new HR Industry Transformation Plan to strengthen HR capabilities to support business transformation and build a future ready workforce, a new Job Redesign Centre of Excellence helmed by the Institute for Human Resource Professionals, or IHRP, will be set up this year as a one stop centre to help employers and HR teams navigate their job transformation journey, and facilitate access to resources for their job redesign needs. 
  • I want to humbly suggest to you that in this new age, with the accelerated change and the pace of disruptions increasing, we cannot afford for HR to play defence as a strategy. We have to go on the offensive – we have to create our own future.
  • For SME employers who would like more guided support, you can tap on IHRP’s Transformation for Growth workshops which will assist you in assessing and help you to prioritise and triage your HR needs and guide you through implementable, feasible action plans.  


16. In conclusion, we can look forward to many more new and exciting opportunities. I am very delighted to hear about the 135 hotels with over 18,000 local workers, having committed to implement the JTM strategies on their properties. I encourage more to check out the JTM and “check in” for the transformation journey to help your assets, properties and workers grow and thrive. 

17. Thank you and I wish everyone a very fruitful, engaging and productive conference.