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Speech at WorldWide Hotels Group’s 30th Anniversary Celebration

Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng, Novotel Singapore on Kitchener

Mr Choo Chong Ngen, Chairman, Worldwide Hotels Group,
Ms Carolyn Choo, CEO, Worldwide Hotels Group,
Dr Lee Boon Yang,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction and congratulatory remarks

1. Good evening!
It is indeed a pleasure to be able to celebrate this very significant milestone for Worldwide Hotels Group with everyone.

2. Worldwide Hotels Group has weathered many, many storms over the last 30 years – from the Global Financial Crisis in the 2000s to the most recent Covid-19 health crisis just a few years ago. Whatever that does not break you, will only make you stronger.

3. Just like how storms make trees take deeper roots, with over 8,000 rooms in Singapore, Worldwide Hotels Group has grown into one of Singapore’s largest local hotel brands. The group has also expanded overseas and I wish it success as it spreads its branches to even more cities internationally. This adds a lot of weightage to the adage “Made in Singapore - it is possible!”.

Economic Outlook for Tourism Sector

4. On this joyous occasion, I am happy to share that more sunny days lie ahead for our tourism sector, and we have even surpassed pre-COVID levels in some areas. For example, the average room rate and revenue per available room is already higher in 2023 than it was in 2019.

5. Looking ahead, we are expect more visitor arrivals this year; we expect it to reach around 15 to 16 million; and tourism receipts to hit between $26 to $27.5 billion. These forecasts bode well for the hotel industry.

6. There also continues to be strong investments in the tourism and hospitality sector. Last year, the hotel industry welcomed an addition of over 3,000 room keys, including Worldwide Hotel Group’s Hotel Mi Rochor. This very property that we are in today was also refurbished and rebranded to Novotel Singapore on Kitchener. We are very happy, because this exemplifies Worldwide Hotels Group’s commitment to rejuvenating our hospitality landscape so that we can continue to ensure Singapore always remains a compelling tourism and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) destination. To further boost the sector, the Government will also be injecting $300 million into Singapore’s Tourism Development Fund.

7. These investments underscore our joint confidence in Singapore's longer term tourism prospects.

Jobs Transformation Map for Hotels

8. As the tourism sector recovers, I exhort everyone in the hotel industry to ride on the positive tide and keep up with job transformation and upskilling to stay ahead.

9. Last May, I launched the Jobs Transformation Map for Hotels. It identifies the impact of different trends and technological disruptions on job roles and recommends strategies to transform these jobs, outlining critical skills, the technical skills that workers need to remain relevant.

10. Broadly, it calls on hotels to stay competitive through three strategic thrusts:

a. First, hotels need to adapt their businesses; to reinvent their business models and seek new business capabilities. For instance, by diversifying your revenue streams, redesigning work processes, and adopting digital solutions.

b. Second, hotels will need to continue to delight your guests; by uncovering new ways and synergies to enhance customers’ experience; such as by partnering with other businesses in the tourism sector.

c. Finally, hotels will need to uplift their workforce; by future-proofing their workforce and creating new employee value propositions.

11. I am heartened that Worldwide Hotels Group has been a strong proponent for the transformation of its hotels and that you are actively engaged in uplifting your workforce.

12. Take for example, 22-year-old Ms Puteri Nur Afiqah Binte Abd Latiff. She was from the retail and food and beverage sectors but she had always wanted to work in the front office, be the face of the hotel, its ambassadress, and create fond memories for guests like her elder sister. After undergoing Workforce Singapore’s Career Conversion Programme for Tourism Professionals, she is now welcoming guests as a Front Office Executive and continues to learn new and emerging skills through on-the-job training. Do say Hi to Afiqah the next time you are at Hotel Boss!


13. In closing, I would like to continue to encourage Worldwide Hotels and your partners to press on with your transformation projects, and that you continue to bring Singapore and our workers into the next lap of our tourism development.

14.To Worldwide Hotels, Happy 30th Anniversary! Congratulations once again on your significant milestone and achievements, and I wish everyone a wonderful dinner and pleasant evening.