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Asia has long been tipped to be at the forefront of expansion of the Attractions Business. As the US and European economies struggle in the mire of economic recession and Dubai flounders, Asia continues to perform well. The growth of the middles classes in India and China has fuelled a new market for the attractions industry to provide world class leisure experiences, one that Singapore is seeking to capitalise on with an evolved tourism strategy for 2010. Blooloop looks at the reasons for the rise and rise of Singapore and talks to Eunice Yeo, Area Director, Northern and Western Europe, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) about how STB’s new strategy is translating into record visitor numbers.
STB launched the “Redesigning the Tourism Experience Singapore 2010” strategy including the “Your Singapore” brand in March 2010. At the heart of the strategy are the aspirations to create:
- a centralised high quality experience tailored around the guest,
- world class facilities for the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) sector – IAAPA’s Asian Attractions Expo 2011 is to be held in Singapore, and
- A venue for year-round world class events.
The strategy is supported by initiatives designed to increase productivity through technology, enhanced customer service, new business opportunities and diversification. Of potential interest to the attractions industry are the ideas around the application of advanced technology in attractions, outstanding customer service and promotion of the creative industries. 2009 saw disappointing visitor numbers throughout Asia due to the global economic slowdown, the weather and H1N1 virus outbreaks, but Singapore has bounced back in 2010.
Singapore visitor arrivals for July 2010 showed a 24.1% increase of the previous year, reaching 1, 095, 000 visitors, the first time that monthly visitor arrivals have exceeded 1 million. Significantly for Singapore which has previously been seen as a long haul stop-over rather than a destination in its own right, visitor days reached 4.2 million days in July 2010 (up 21.2% compared to July 2009). The table below shows a breakdown of the visitors by country:
Eunice Yeo is encouraged by the figures: “These positive statistics follow the Singapore Tourism Board’s forecast for 2010: 11.5 – 12.5 million visitor arrivals and S$17.5 – S$18.5 billion in tourism receipts. These unprecedented figures also highlight that Singapore is continuing to be a hot destination for 2010, a trend that is no doubt to set to continue thanks to the recent opening of Singapore’s two stunning Integrated Resorts…These complement Singapore’s extensive year-round calendar of events that includes new events such as the Youth Olympic Games and Asia Fashion Exchange, as well as returning signature events such as the SINGTEL SINGAPORE FORMULA ONE™ GRAND PRIX and Great Singapore Sale."
Growth of Asian Middle Classes:
Looking at the visitor statistics it is significant but not surprising that growth is driven from within Asia. The buoyant economies in the region have created increasing numbers of middle class consumers who are seeking out leisure experiences on their doorstep. The Asian Development Bank’s Key Indicators for 2010 says that “Asia's emerging consumers are likely to assume the traditional role of the US and European middle classes as global consumers, and to play a key role in rebalancing the world's economy… Assuming consumption expenditures in Asia continue to grow at roughly the same rate as the past 20 years, by 2030 developing Asia will likely reach $32 trillion in annual expenditures and comprise about 43% of worldwide consumption.”
With the rise in demand for high quality leisure experiences in Asia, Singapore is on the frontier of the expansion of a new wave of attractions. However, there is serious competition from within the region: Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea, the Universal Studios park in Osaka and South Korea's Everland ranked among the world's top 10 theme parks in terms of visitors last year. Looking to the future, Universal Studios is set to build its third Asian theme park in South Korea and China promises enormous potential. How can Singapore compete?
Singapore has developed an exceptionally hospitable environment for business. Singapore tops the World Bank’s “ease of doing business” ranking, and is placed 7th on INSEAD’s Global Innovation Index. Not bad for a country with a population of just 5 million and land area of only 700 sq km.
Yeo attributes Singapores strong performance to its unique character which attracts a winning combination of tourists, businesses and workers: “Not every tourist destination in Asia can offer the abundance of opportunities and cosmopolitan environment that Singapore provides. Since gaining independence, Singapore has become one of Asia’s most advanced economies and numerous talents and business moguls have launched exciting new ventures on the island. The opportunities for foreign citizens to thrive and grow their businesses in Singapore are limitless."
With a third of it’s population being foreign born, Yeo says “Singapore continues to recognise the importance of investing in human capital, so there are many benefits provided by employers to make working in Singapore a rewarding venture. Singapore has always welcomed foreign talent to work across all industries. Singapore consistently offers a safe, clean environment, a harmonious multi-racial community, a thriving economy and not to mention a vibrant nightlife that frequently tops global polls.”
The Singaporean Government has earmarked £500 million to achieve the mission of developing Singapore as a global city and a creative economy, and key elements of the STB’s new strategy aim to encourage technological innovation and customer service initiatives in the leisure and tourism sector. Yeo sets out some of the incentives available for businesses in Singapore: “There are various incentive schemes that companies who wish to establish a regional headquarters in Singapore can tap in on. Apart from iDigital, there are other existing incentive schemes geared towards business excellence, transformation and innovation, such as Tourism Development Assistance Scheme (TDAS) and Tourism Technology Fund or those related to human capital excellence such as TIP-iT Plus and WSQ In-house Adopter Scheme. The Singapore Tourism Board also helps to facilitate introductions to industry partners and relevant organisations for overseas attractions-related companies.”
Integrated Resorts – epitomising STB’s vision of the future
Transformation of the tourism landscape in Singapore has already begun with the opening of Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands integrated resorts in 2010, developments which Yeo says “perfectly encapsulate the Singapore Tourism Board’s new strategy… the new Integrated Resorts feature a concentration of sights, sounds, tastes, culture and attractions which empowers travellers to personalise their Singapore experience according to what they like – and how and when they want to experience it… Their combined range of unique dining establishments, high tech rides, attractions and world class brands – including Asia’s first ever Universal Studios – will aid YourSingapore’s task to position Singapore as a must-visit destination with an exciting range of vibrant, trendy and memorable experiences.”
The island has hosted the Grand Prix this year and future developments that will establish Singapore’s presence as a global tourist destination include the International Cruise Terminal, Gardens by the Bay, National Art Gallery, River Safari and Changi Motor Sports Hub. There were those that doubted whether Singapore could attract enough visitors to support the STB’s grand vision of integrated resorts and round-the-calendar events. However, with record breaking visitor numbers and Universal Studios Singapore welcoming its 1 millionth guest, it would seem that the STB are succeeding in rebranding the Lion City as a tourist destination in it’s own right.
Images courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board and Resorts World Sentosa