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Last Updated: Friday, 8 August, 2003, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Postcards to boost Singapore travel
Postcard from Singapore's
One of three designs being distributed to every Singaporean
Anyone with a friend living in Singapore should expect to be hearing from them soon with an appeal to visit the island city-state.

The Sars respiratory epidemic which swept across East Asia devastated the island's tourist trade and pushed its flagship airline into the red for the first time ever.

Now the government is fighting back, delivering three postcards with pre-paid international postage to every household in Singapore.

The aim is to encourage Singaporeans to get friends and relations overseas to pay them a visit, in the process helping revitalise the island's flagging economy.

"The tourism sector has been battered badly," said Singapore Tourism Board (STB) chairman Lim Neo Chian, "and there is an urgent need to step up our recovery efforts as many jobs are at stake."

Visitor numbers slumped by 74% during May, at the height of the Sars epidemic which claimed the lives of 33 people in the country.

Current visitor numbers are still down as much as 20% compared to a year ago.

Carrots not sticks

Singapore's has a reputation for social engineering, with fines for such crimes as chewing gum orforgetting to flush a public lavatory.

But things are changing. A new trade deal with the US is allowing chewing gum into the country legally, ending a thriving - if hardly lucrative - black market.

And as for Project Postcard, as the Tourism Board dubs its mass postcard campaign, the authorities are using a carrot, not a stick.

The three different designs will be distributed in stages: the first with newspapers on Singapore's National Day, 9 August 2003, and the second and third by mail two weeks later.

Each batch carries with it the promise that one lucky recipient will win a holiday for two including flights on Singapore Airlines, three nights at the luxury five-star Fullerton Hotel and S$1,000 (US$570; 354) to spend.

The sender, meanwhile, will win a S$500 shopping voucher.

Singapore tries to loosen up
12 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific

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