USAID Helps Singapore Travel Agents Discover Timor-Leste's Charms

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Dave G. Acton of Sea Dive in Singapore (left) tested the scuba diving waters around Timor-Leste on his first visit as part of a five-day trip for Singapore travel agents to discover Timor.

Timor-Leste’s profile on the world tourism stage got a little larger with the help of USAID’s Tourism For All Project, which recently worked with the Ministry of Tourism and the private sector to bring a group of three travel agents from Singapore for a visit to familiarize themselves with Timor. The five-day trip gave the agents a first-hand view of some of Timor-Leste’s charms as an international tourism destination, from the shores of scuba paradise Ataruo Island to Dili to the mountains of Maubisse.

The National Tourism Policy of Timor-Leste envisions transforming the country’s tourism sector into a vibrant industry that by 2030, will welcome 200,000 international tourists annually, earning the country $150 million in revenues and directly employing 15,000 workers. Such development would move the country along its journey to self-reliance and support the economic growth pillar of the U.S. vision for the Indo-Pacific region. 

The Singapore trip was an early step toward that end. With a population of 5.64 million people and a per capita GDP of more than $64,000, Singapore is a major aviation hub and source for many Asian destinations. Singaporeans, in 2017, made an average of 5.5 overseas trips. Fortunately, for Timor-Leste, the Singaporean agents found their stay enjoyable and added valuable insight into attracting more countrymen.

“This was my first visit to Timor-Leste, and I am impressed by what I have experienced. There is no doubt that Singapore-based divers will be interested in a place like this,” said Dave G. Acton from Sea Dive.

Agent Chong Lee Ling from 3PlayGrounds Travel cautioned that Timor-Leste will need to be aware of cost-conscious travelers, not just appeal to those looking for new destinations. “I believe the most effective and fastest way to get more Singaporeans to visit Timor-Leste is to offer great value packages and build destination awareness amongst target markets through informative travel talks,” she said.