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Singapore By SeaApril 9, 2012 By: Deanna Ting Travel Agent
|Resorts World Sentosa is one of the first two integrated casino resorts opened in Singapore.|
In 2005, when Singapore debuted its ambitious 10-year master plan for tourism growth—more than $22 billion in tourism receipts by 2015—all eyes were focused on the diminutive island in Southeast Asia, waiting to see if it could meet its goals.
To achieve that benchmark, Singapore allowed casino gambling for the first time in almost 50 years with the opening of two major integrated casino resorts in 2010, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, and it debuted the Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix in 2008, the world’s only Grand Prix night race, among other initiatives. In short, it has invested millions into diversifying its tourism infrastructure and offerings. Now, seven years later, the country appears well on its way to achieving its goal.
“In 2011, we saw a new high in our preliminary tourism receipts, which was estimated at $17.6 billion,” said Aw Kah Peng, chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). “Similarly, our international visitor arrivals for 2011 stood at 13.2 million, charting a new record and exceeding the year’s forecast range of 12 to 13 million.”
The U.S., says Serene Tan, STB regional director, Americas, continues to be a strong market for Singapore. “Visitor arrivals from the U.S. increased by 6 percent with 441,000 visitors by the end of 2011,” Tan said.
She also noted that, “The U.S. has consistently been among the top 10 markets contributing to our tourism receipts. With the 6 percent increase in arrivals from the U.S. in 2011, we expect the U.S. to continue to be a top market for Singapore.”
Travel Agent consulted with Tan and Aw to find out about their plans for the U.S. market in 2012, as well as to learn more about their overall plans for tourism growth as they head into the homestretch of the STB’s 10-year master tourism plan.
Targeting the Cruise Market
Singapore, long known as an ideal Southeast Asia stopover destination thanks to its stellar Changi Airport facilities and air accessibility, hopes to become an ideal Asia cruise destination, too. In the second quarter of 2012, the new state-of-the-art International Cruise Terminal (ICT) will open, doubling Singapore’s berth capacity and enabling more cruise ships to homeport and call on Singapore.
|The new state-of-the-art International Cruise Terminal (ICT) will open in the second quarter of 2012.|
“We expect more ocean liners to drop anchor here when the terminal is completed in the second quarter of this year, bringing with them thousands of passengers in and out of Singapore,” explained Aw. “With the opening of the ICT, we hope to attract more cruise passengers and make Singapore the choice home port to the fascinatingly diverse Southeast Asian region, which has the potential to evolve into the world’s new cruising playground.”
Aw said that Singapore is also working with other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam to advance cruise tourism in the region by sharing best practices, developing port infrastructures and enhancing shoreside attractions and amenities.
New Attractions and Hotels
Investments continue for new tourism attractions and hotels throughout 2012. “This year will also see the completion of the first phase of Gardens by the Bay,” added Tan. Gardens by the Bay comprises a 250-acre park adjacent to the Marina Bay Sands.
“The much-anticipated River Safari, Asia’s first river-themed animal park, is also scheduled to open this year, together with new hotels like the W Singapore-Sentosa Cove and Parkroyal on Pickering by the Pan Pacific Hotel Group,” said Tan.
“These new developments will contribute to the existing repertoire of diverse offerings and further reinforce Singapore’s appeal as a vibrant destination for all visitors. As a country, we will continue working to preserve our rich national heritage while also contributing to the country’s growth as both a dynamic and innovative business and leisure destination,” said Aw.
Whetting Foodies’ Appetites
Even as the STB expands into the cruise market and into developing new tourism attractions in 2012, it hasn’t forgotten about one of the pillars of its tourism success: its one-of-a-kind blend of cultures and cuisines.
|Serene Tan, regional director, Americas, for the Singapore Tourism Board, with Anthony Bourdain and Chef K.F. Seetoh.|
In February, the STB invited Anthony Bourdain to speak at a media luncheon in New York about the rich street food culture unique to Singapore. At the luncheon, Bourdain raved about Singapore’s authentic cuisine. Bourdain is not alone in his sentiments regarding the excellence of Singapore’s food scene, either, says Aw.
“Singapore is also quickly emerging as one of the most highly regarded destinations in Southeast Asia for innovative and exciting food,” said Aw. “Beyond the street food culture, the country is also receiving recognition for its homegrown culinary masters.”
In 2010, Singapore was the only Southeast Asian country to make it to the coveted San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants top 50 list—with two restaurants, Iggy’s and Jaan Par Andre. Aw also noted that dozens of top chefs from around the world have converged on Singapore to open their signature restaurants—Joel Robuchon, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud and Susur Lee among them.
Going into 2012, the STB remains committed to working with its travel and tourism partners and its global brand message, “YourSingapore.”
“With strategies customized to the needs of individual markets, based on in-depth understanding of the needs of consumers in the various regions, we will be able to create and deliver better quality experiences to visitors,” said Aw. “This is a natural evolution of the ‘YourSingapore’ destination brand that emphasizes the personalization of experiences. We believe that this visitor-centricity will increase the appeal and relevance of Singapore, and help build a stronger brand in the long term.”
That strength, added Tan, is here to stay thanks to the variety of Singapore’s tourism offerings.
“Our tourism success is really a combination of so many things—the Integrated Resorts drawing new visitors, the awareness that media has generated about the destination, our business events—particularly groundbreaking events like TravelRave which co-locates travel industry events for the different travel and tourism sectors—and our diverse and vibrant dining scene and food culture.”