Starting a Hospitality Business in Singapore

Singapore has earned its reputation as one of the top destinations globally for investment due to its ease of doing business and strategic location. Its minimal bureaucracy, favorable tax rates, skilled labour, protection of intellectual property and good quality of life are among factors why tourists and immigrants arrive at record-setting rates year after year.

Singapore receives millions of tourists every year, ranging from back packers, average tourists to the high end consumers. So, starting a hospitality industry irrespective of its size in Asia’s best convention city can give you an edge when it comes to clients as opposed to investing in other countries.


Key Players in the Hospitality Industry

In Singapore, one major contributor to the hospitality industry is the MICE sector - Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE). Singapore topped world rankings for the city with the most international meetings in 2011. In terms of exhibitions, Singapore had many more exhibitions and conventional meetings than its closest rival Brussels in 2011 according to a research done in that year.

Another key player in the hospitality industry in Singapore is the Casino integrated resorts and the medical tourism business. This sector is quite important noting that Singapore’s reputation in the medical and the gaming sector is huge. In 2012, the gaming sector alone earned a whooping $2 billion.

Procedure to Start the Business

Step 1:  Incorporate the business. First, the business must be registered as a Singapore firm, a business or a limited liability partnership with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). For more guides, you can refer to Singapore Company Registration.

Look for a name approval and SSIC code by applying online with a relevant Singpass on the Bizfile website. The name you choose has to meet the required standards.

Besides the above requirements, you should take care not to infringe trademarks. You can avoid this by searching for existing trademarks at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) by providing the SSIC code.

Step 2: After obtaining an SSIC code, submit it to the Council of Estate Agencies (CEA).

Step 3: Legal Compliance Details (Licenses)

Although Singapore does not have so complicated and long legal compliance requirements, there are several licenses and important documents that one has to obtain before starting a hospitality business in the country. The following are the main requirements.

  • Approval of business premises. Before you even think of investing your money in Singapore, identify an ideal location to set up your business and look for an approval of your premises from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore with your proposed location of the premises at hand.
  • Apply for a Food and Health License. In Singapore, like in most countries around the world, you can’t start a business that involves the sale of food without a proper license. In addition, Singapore authorities demand that all food operators attend a food Hygiene course after which you are accredited by the appropriate authority after meeting the requirements.
  • Clearance from National Environment Agency. Again, the laws in Singapore require that everyone intending to start a business in the hospitality industry to acquire a certificate of compliance from the aforementioned agency.
  • Approval from Building Construction Authority


Singapore is generally generous with grants and other incentives to companies that are willing to grow and expand their wings in the island. Specially, the Singapore Tourism Board is very cooperative to investors who wish to invest in the hospitality industry of the country. Below are few public portals that we recommend for everyone interested in starting a hospitality business in Singapore -

Important Partners

You may consider working with following organizations and government partners:

  • Singapore Tourism Board. This government agency as we had stated is very vibrant in helping investors in the hospitality industry to develop in their respective endeavors. It works to champion tourism in the country and to ensure that all the hospitality investors get as many clients as possible.
  • Infocomm Media Development Agency. As an investor, you will definitely need to work with local media agencies for marketing and promotional reasons. The agency is also vibrant in enabling Singapore to become a global media city notwithstanding to foster a creative economy and a connected society. In any case, the city has a very diverse culture that has both the East and West traditions.
  • Enterprise One Portal. This is a website where investors from all kinds of industries can learn how to start and sustain their businesses in the company and has links and how to guides in issues relating to the country.
  • SPRING Singapore. This helps innovative companies in finances, management and technology development and in helping foster a healthy SME sector.
  • The Infocomm Development Authority (IMDA). This plays the role of enabling a good business environment for investors working in Singapore. It works to enable investors to sustain their business as a long term agenda through the use of innovative Infocomm technology development, deployment and use of Singapore’s human and economic resources.



It is without doubt that Singapore is the best investment location in the world. Its geographical location, its low bureaucracy and availability of skilled labor are just some of the reasons why you need to invest in Singapore’s hospitality industry.

However, prior engaging in any business venture, first and foremost, when planning to start up a business in a lucrative and competitive location like Singapore, having the right network is often pivotal to a company’s success and specifically in new markets. 

To have less worries and queries and to also obtain valuable information with regards to starting a hospitality business in Singapore, it is best to have a professional team who can guide you deliver a continuous and successful transition in Asia.

To help you start and grow your business in Singapore, you can consult Piloto Asia.

Industry GuideRaymond Chan