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 June 02, 2003
WHO Removes Singapore From Its List Of SARS-Affected Countries

 Barely 20 hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed Singapore from its list of SARS-affected countries, the island's tourism players rallied together, in a swift and spontaneous showcase of industry solidarity, to pay tribute to the nationís outstanding containment efforts, its sustained vigilance and to the resilience of the affected industries in these challenging times.

A convoy of six Harley-Davidsons kicked off the celebrations as Boat Quay, the city's iconic stretch of riverbank clubs, restaurants and bars, came alive with loud music, mardi gras characters, jugglers, magicians, stilt walkers and a 3000-strong crowd of revellers.

The thank-you celebrations were organised by Singapore Can-Lah!, a coalition of private-sector companies in the travel and tourism industry, launched barely six weeks ago in response to the outbreak.

"Singapore has done an exemplary job in its response to SARS and in the words of the WHO, "it is a model for the worldí," said Mr Jim Papineau, Project Director of Singapore Can-Lah! "We salute the leadership and all the individuals, particularly in the healthcare industry, who have contributed to keeping Singapore a safe place to be. We are excited about welcoming back our international visitors."

Mr Francis Phun, who chairs the Association of Singapore Attractions said: "We're sending a strong signal to the world that Singapore is ready to receive guests again."

The WHO announcement spells a full take-off for the tourism industryís revival programme.

"In just two months, the tourism business in Singapore has been knocked back by 20 years. With this announcement by WHO, we can start to rebuild our business, and rebuild we shall," said Mr Asad Shiraz, Chief Executive Officer of the Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Singapore Tourism Board's Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive, Mr Lim Neo Chian made clear the priorities that lie ahead. "I'm very happy we are off the list, but it's not quite a weight off our shoulders. The real work begins on Monday to bring tourists back."

Echoing his sentiments was Mr Bob Guy, Co-Chairman of Singapore Lah and Managing Director, Pacific World, "We all feel relieved to be completely off the WHO list but we are also very aware that we still have quite a job to do in revitalizing the tourism industry. The industry is united, like never before and will be extending a number of special offers during the coming weeks.

He added, "We are happy that Hong Kong has been removed from the WHO travel advisory last weekend. We pray that Taiwan and China and Canada will also get this outbreak under control in their territories as soon as possible. Only after we get all of the countries in the entire region in the SARS free column will our problems be resolved in terms of tourism promotion to Asia.

Singapore Can Lah! is a coalition of private companies in the tourism, travel, and meetings industries in Singapore. Co-chaired by Bob Guy, Managing Director of Pacific World, this private-sector initiative was set up in response to the drastic decline in visitor arrivals. Its larger objective is to support the Republic's exemplary SARS containment strategy with an equally compelling recovery programme aimed at bringing visitors and business back to Singapore.

Singapore Can-Lah! draws its name from the country's popular colloquial English affirmative that expresses the Republic's confidence and ability to step up to the plate and overcome any challenge. "Can Singapore bring the SARS outbreak under control, restore confidence, boost morale and get the economy moving?" "Sure can lah!"