SAFE bubbles; pilot events; partnerships with Klook, Airbnb, Expedia; domestic vouchers – you name it, Singapore Tourism Board is pulling out all the stops to buy time for local businesses until borders open or a vaccine arrives.
What happens when the world shuts down and your entire existence is based on an open world? Well, that’s the story of Singapore during Covid and for me, living here and running a business here, it’s been fascinating to bear witness to the rolling impact of the Covid-19 crisis on my adopted home and its response.
At times it’s felt like watching a Netflix horror series in which you wonder if the next episode could possibly get any worse and at times, it’s felt like watching a superhero movie, cheering on the underdog as it takes on the big giants with more superpowers than it can ever dream to possess.
Let’s face it, in a global world gone local, Singapore is truly an underdog. Unlike countries that can afford to shut themselves off from the rest of the world for a period of time, this country of under six million people living in a 727sqkm of land mass (to give context, Canada has 38 million people living across 9,984,670sqkm) absolutely needs an open world to function.
Since independence 55 years ago, it’s had to look outwards to build its fortunes. From the early tea merchants to aspiring tech unicorns of today, the one thread that unites them is the necessity to look abroad for growth and scale.
In fact, to use today’s parlance, you could say Singapore is the original hybrid state – small physical footprint but big virtual reach. For businesses based here, like WiT, Singapore has always been a springboard to the outside world. You thus have a massive problem when the outside world is closed off, to all intents and purposes.
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