November 20, 2019 View in browser

Some people call Singapore a surveillance state, or a city of sensors. That's a long way from being dubbed a "fine city" for penalizing people for littering, chewing gum, jaywalking, and a host of other mundane things.

You can spot sensors, cameras, and GPS devices in public spaces, although the government says it's part of its Smart Nation initiatives. A new law on "fake news," which gives the government the right to order social media sites to put warnings next to posts it deems false, recently came into effect. Now hotels choosing to use facial recognition technology to automate check-ins also have to send guest data to the immigration department.

All this is making Singapore look just a bit more sinister, even though the new system is part of a continued drive to increase productivity in Singapore hotels.

Without a doubt, Singapore hotels need to use technology and improve efficiency as they continue to face a manpower crunch as supply increases, labor decreases, and restrictions on hiring foreign workers remain. Such a scheme as the E-Visitor Authentication, however, has to be handled and communicated properly — which, our report below suggests, hasn't been the case.

Either way, this won't make a dent: Tourism continues to grow in the city of censors.

Oops — or rather, sensors.

Skift Short-Term Rental Summit 2019 Will Be Live Streamed!

Didn't get tickets to our sold-out Skift Short-Term Rental Summit? You can still catch all the main-stage action as well as join in the Q&A by purchasing access to our live stream.

Skift Stories and More Expert Insights
Is Singapore’s New Hotel Guest Authentication Just Creepy Surveillance?

Self check-in by facial recognition at hotels is unlikely to be an industrywide reality any time soon in Singapore — and that's not exactly bad news.

Read More Starts Selling Competitors' Flights via Partnership

It's finally happened. is selling other airlines on its website and app. Powered by, it's a start. Getting direct contracts with airlines is next. Should online travel agencies continue to doubt AirAsia's foray into their turf? "Believe the unbelievable," CEO Tony Fernandes said.

Read More Group's Softer Growth Shows Extent of China Outbound Slowdown

Single-digit growth is something China's largest online travel company isn't used to, but that may just happen in the fourth quarter. Growth has already softened in the third.

Read More

Airbnb Signs 9-Year Sponsorship Deal With Olympics Ahead of Tokyo Games

That Airbnb chose the Olympic Games for its first-ever global sponsorship deal makes sense — the event both aligns with the brand's ethos and will be a boon for its bottom line as it aims to go public in 2020.

Read More

Expedia’s Vrbo to Reposition Itself Beyond Vacation Rentals as a Family Travel Business

In a very crowded and highly competitive short-term rental field, it makes sense that Expedia Group's Vrbo would try to stand out, albeit as a travel business serving families. Why go after the backpackers and younger generation when that isn't your core customer anyway?

Read More

Travelio Raises $18 Million for Extended Stay Booking: Travel Startup Funding

Travel startups Travelio, Refundit, and Nowaday together announced more than $31 million in funding. Of particular note is Amadeus' backing of Refundit. The startup offers visitors to European Union countries a mobile app to speed up their claims for rebates for value-added taxes paid on retail shopping.

Read More

Asia Editor Raini Hamdi [] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Linked In Send via Email

For Gmail users: If you are using the tabbed inbox, Skift emails may be pushed to the 'Promotions' tab. To get updates from Skift direct to your primary inbox, drag and drop this email to that tab.

You received this email because you are subscribed to Skift Asia Weekly Newsletter from Skift.

If you'd like to unsubscribe from this email, click here

If you'd like to receive fewer emails, click here

If someone shared this email with you and you would like to subscribe, visit our newsletters page on Skift