S’pore needs wow fac­tor to grow tourism: Ex­perts

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - International Business - OC­TO­BER 19, 2018

TO woo and wow vis­i­tors, Sin­ga­pore needs to go big­ger and be more creative in or­der to grow its tourism sec­tor and make it stand out from the com­pe­ti­tion, said tourism ex­perts who weighed in on the Gov­ern­ment’s plans to re­shape and re­ju­ve­nate two of its key tourism at­trac­tions: Sen­tosa and Or­chard Road.

From space tourism to in­no­va­tive theatre en­ter­tain­ment, th­ese were some of the ideas thrown up by ex­perts to help Sin­ga­pore at­tract and re­tain vis­i­tors for longer stays.

Pu­lau Brani and the Greater South­ern Water­front, which was first mooted by the Ur­ban Re­de­vel­op­ment Author­ity (URA) in 2013, could also play a key role in in­tro­duc­ing such in­no­va­tive ideas and con­cepts.

With the con­tainer ports at Tan­jong Pa­gar set to move out in the com­ing decade, de­vel­op­ment plans for the area are set to kick into higher gear.

Speak­ing at a tourism in­dus­try event on Wed­nes­day (Oct 17), Se­nior Min­is­ter of State for Trade and In­dus­try Chee Hong Tat said that “this ex­panded can­vas, which is as large as Sen­tosa Is­land it­self, pro­vides ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for us to de­velop new tourism at­trac­tions

Ngee Ann Polytech­nic se­nior tourism lec­turer Michael Chiam said the water­front, which has an area about three times the size of Ma­rina Bay, could host a state-of-the-art per­for­mance theatre with a 360-de­gree ro­tat­ing au­di­ence plat­form sim­i­lar to the En­core Me­laka theatre pro­duc­tion in Malaysia.

“Our space is cur­rently re­stricted to Es­planade, Ma­rina Bay Sands, Re­sorts World. All th­ese are in­door...we can­not have big ar­chi­tec­ture kind of back­drops,” he said.

With such a high-tech theatre, Mr Chiam added that it could even al­low for wa­ter works to serve as a back­drop to tie in with them aquatic theme of a water­front lo­ca­tion.

The area around Changi Air­port could be used as a launch­pad for space tourism, said Nanyang Polytech­nic’s se­nior tourism lec­turer Kevin Wee.

“If Sin­ga­pore is in­ter­ested to at­tract the bil­lion­aires and all those guys with a lot of money, this (type of) tourism might make sense,” he said.

A reg­u­lar cal­en­dar of world-class mar­quee events such as the For­mula 1 Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix would also help bring in an ad­di­tional 20,000 to 30,000 tourists, said Mr Christo­pher Khoo, manag­ing di­rec­tor of in­ter­na­tional tourism con­sul­tancy Master­con­sult Ser­vice.

In 2017, Sin­ga­pore saw a record 17.4 mil­lion vis­i­tors, with tourism re­ceipts also reach­ing a record of S$26.8 mil­lion.

For the first half of this year, the coun­try wel­comed 9.2 mil­lion vis­i­tors, a 7.7 per cent in­crease over the same pe­riod last year. Fif­teen per cent of those vis­i­tors were here for busi­ness travel, con­tribut­ing 22 per cent of Sin­ga­pore’s to­tal tourism re­ceipts.

Mr Khoo added that such host­ing such “eye­ball grab­bing” events monthly would make them the “new an­chors” of Sin­ga­pore’s tourism cal­en­dar.

“It’s not an­other cruise cen­tre, not an­other casino…(just like how) in the world, there is only one Ok­to­ber Fest in Mu­nich, and one Car­ni­val only in Rio (de Janeiro),” he said.

Re­vamp of sen­tosa Mr Chee also said on Wed­nes­day that a com­pre­hen­sive set of plans to re­shape Sen­tosa is be­ing de­vel­oped, and that au­thor­i­ties would look at “how we can im­prove con­nec­tiv­ity, in­crease at­trac­tive­ness for peo­ple to visit Sen­tosa”.

As far back as 2014, plans were un­veiled to re­vamp Sen­tosa by cre­at­ing six precincts, with a re­cent an­nounce­ment in June last year stat­ing that the is­land would get a new walk­way, at­trac­tion, and more night events.

In­te­grat­ing Sen­tosa with the in­fra­struc­ture of Greater South­ern Water­front and Pu­lau Brani is an area that could be ex­plored to al­low vis­i­tors greater ease of ac­cess to the is­land, said Mr Chiam, as he added that “it is a chore for peo­ple to get there”.

The Ma­rina Bay Cruise Cen­tre Sin­ga­pore should also be part of the re­vamp as its cur­rent lo­ca­tion is quite iso­lated, said the polytech­nic lec­turer.

Re­spond­ing to ques­tions from the me­dia, Mr Chee said that the cruise in­dus­try is also a seg­ment that Sin­ga­pore can look into, and that it is “one of the pos­si­ble uses for the Greater South­ern Water­front”.

They are also keen to work with part­ners in Asean. “With more cruise des­ti­na­tions, more vis­i­tors from China, In­dia, Europe, Amer­ica, we’re bet­ter able to of­fer an ex­cit­ing itin­er­ary for them, mul­ti­ple stops within South­east Asia, and Sin­ga­pore can be one of th­ese stops,” he said.

As for Or­chard Road, Mr Chee said that plans are be­ing drawn up to trans­form the shop­ping belt, with ideas such as turn­ing it into an in­no­va­tion dis­trict for start-ups to use the area as a “liv­ing lab” to try out new re­tail con­cepts, among other things. It could also be trans­formed into a “green oa­sis” in the city, and be­come “an or­chard in the city”, he added.

Last Septem­ber, a com­mit­tee headed by three min­is­ters was formed to drive the re­ju­ve­na­tion of Or­chard Road. The blue­print for the re­ju­ve­na­tion of Or­chard Road and Sen­tosa, as well as the Greater South­ern Cor­ri­dor, will be shared within the next six to nine months, said Mr Chee. – TO­DAY

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