18 October 18 The Business Times by LEILA LAI
EVEN as Singapore continues to enjoy its status as a choice destination for quality events, the island state is working to enhance its overall attractiveness as a tourist destination, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of travel trade event ITB Asia, Mr Chee noted that visitor arrivals to Singapore increased 7.7 per cent year-on-year to 9.2 million in the first half of 2018, with about 15 per cent of visitors here for business travel and meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions (BTMICE).
Such visitors contributed S$2.2 billion or 22 per cent of Singapore's total tourism receipts, excluding receipts for sightseeing, entertainment and gaming sectors.
Singapore was also named "Best BTMICE City 2018" by TTG Travel Awards in September this year.
"This recognition is only possible with the close collaboration between our industry players and the government," said Mr Chee. "We will continue to work hard and look for areas where we can improve and do even better."
This year's edition of ITB Asia is expected to receive more than 11,000 foreign and local visitors from the travel and tourism industry over the next three days.
In his speech, Mr Chee shared that Singapore is working to enhance its overall attractiveness as a destination with a strategy involving three key thrusts: investing in quality attractions and reinventing tourism offerings; attracting new visitor segments and increasing their spending; and forging strong partnerships with industry stakeholders to co-create innovative solutions.
To achieve the first thrust, Singapore plans to revamp the Orchard Road shopping belt to include more activities and attractions for tourists and locals alike. It may even incorporate more greenery and serve as a living lab for a new innovation district, Mr Chee added.
Plans for Sentosa Island include rejuvenating existing infrastructure and facilities, Mr Chee told media on the sidelines of ITB Asia. He added that he would like to see more activities conducted at night, since the cooler weather would be conducive for events and activities.
Pulau Brani, a small island located between Sentosa and Keppel Harbour, and the Greater Southern Waterfront will be developed into new tourism attractions when the container ports at Tanjong Pagar are relocated to Tuas in the next decade.
"This expanded canvas, which is as large as Sentosa Island itself, will provide exciting opportunities for us to develop new tourism attractions and anchor this precinct as the Southern Gateway for Asia," Mr Chee said.
Data analytics will be used in the second part of the strategy to find ways to attract new visitor segments and increase their spending, like the Singapore Tourism Board's (STB) Singapore Tourism Analytics Network (Stan) which consolidates and analyses tourism data including visitor spending and movement patterns. It will be upgraded and made available progressively to the rest of the industry to help them meet changing consumer demands, target customers more effectively and deliver more seamless and personalised experiences, Mr Chee said.
Finally, STB will promote industry partnerships by funding Tourism Innovation Challenges to develop innovative solutions for industry needs. It has already done so for the hotels and travel agents sectors, and last month launched the MICE Innovation Challenge.
It will also partner tourism associations, employers and various training providers to build a quality tourism workforce by developing internationally accredited courses and incorporating relevant emerging skills into programme curricula.