S’pore needs wow factor to grow tourism: Experts
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