When China began to show signs of abandoning its zero-Covid policy earlier in December, celebrity chef Justin Quek breathed a sigh of relief; perhaps the good times were truly returning for F&B.
The idea of Chinese visitors visiting Singapore once more presents exciting opportunities for restaurateurs like Mr Quek and other sectors of the economy, such as shopping and lodging.
Given his reliance on tourists, Mr Quek, who owns Chinoiserie and JustIN Flavours of Asia in Marina Bay Sands, was severely affected by the pandemic.
French-Asian food is served at Chinoiserie, while local cuisine is served at JustIN Flavours, a casual concept restaurant located at the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade.
The Marina Bay Sands hotel’s Sky on 57 was shut down in 2017 by Mr. Quek, 60, who then opened Chinoiserie and JustIN.
Business for both immediately recovered within a year, assisted by Singapore recording its greatest number of tourist arrivals in 2019, 19.1 million.
Then came Covid-19, which killed his business if not for neighbourhood clients willing to pay more for takeout.
Along with other businesses in the city, the restaurants experienced a nearly two-year cycle of openings and closings due to a number of Covid-19 regulations designed to stop the virus’ spread.
When travel limits were removed, business at Mr. Quek’s restaurants didn’t really take off until the beginning of 2022.
Following a potential expansion of “about 3.5 percent” this year, the economy is predicted to develop by between 0.5% and 2.5% in 2023, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s (MTI) first prediction for the new year.
Over what was a weak base in 2021, the F&B sector experienced strong year-over-year growth of 30.5% in the three months leading up to September 30. According to the MTI, a significant improvement in food caterers, restaurants, cafes, food courts, and other dining establishments contributed to the third-quarter reversal.
Additionally, growing in the third quarter by 8.9% year over year, the retail trade sector continued the 12.3% increase seen in the second.
“Construction has decreased by around 18% from pre-pandemic levels. A 10% decrease in lodging and food and beverage is observed. Arrivals of tourists are still less than 60% of pre-pandemic levels, with Chinese tourists making up the largest portion of the shortfall.
How do F&B expect to perform in upcoming times?
The reopening of Singapore, the arrival of former expatriates, and China’s departure from zero-Covid-19 will all contribute to the expansion of the aviation, hospitality, and consumer-facing service sectors in 2023.
According to reports, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) will experience an increase in economic activity in 2022 due to the recovering construction and real estate sectors.
We have received many more new orders since September of last year. The volume was greater than we anticipated. Our business will be much better at the end of this year than it was before the outbreak.
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