Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Singapore: No longer a viable tourist destination?

Yesterday, I had a talk with the "Vitagen" guy, sadly I don't really know his real name even though he sends me Vitagen packs every week. I was busy cleaning my home when he came to my door. As he was passing me the Vitagen packs, we talked about work and the topic on Tourism came up.

He said he is from the Tourism sector himself. I wasn't sure which company he is working for but anyways, he said that tourist are not coming in as many as before. I said that we have Formula 1 and IR coming up. He mentioned that they mostly come here for the conventions, not really as a tourist destination. Japanese tourists are not visiting us here, and they are quite the big spenders.

I was surprised, so I asked why we are losing tourists? He went to the economics on how Singapore is such an expensive place to live and also for the tourists. He mentioned that previously, that a night's stay at 3~4 star hotel used to range about 100+ to around 300+. Now it's more than 300+ a night. And he went on to mention a 5 star hotel that is now charging more than a thousand per night.

He said that he is kinda worried, since in his office, almost everyone just sits around unlike how it used to be when they had lots of calls and sales to make. It is a grim outlook, because if this goes on then retrenchment might occur.

I do not really know how bad it is for him but he didn't look too happy himself. I mean the guy's got a family to feed. And if what he said is true, are we going to another phase of retrenchments again?

I talked to my dad about it, he said that if he was the tourist, he'd rather go to KL instead of Singapore. Simply because it is more affordable. Why do you think Singaporeans like to go Malaysia? I mean of course apart from it's beautiful places to visit, like the Twin Towers in KL, Genting Highlands, the beaches of Langkawi, and many other places. But has Singapore lost it's lustre?

Personal Experience

Some years back, I went to Australia. I had a great time there, especially at Gold Coast and Noosa which were located in Brisbane. Our next destination was Sydney. I was looking forward to seeing the Sydney Opera House. But after staying there a few days, I didn't really like it. Sydney felt too much like Singapore, with all the hustle and bustle. Somehow I felt the stress of living in Singapore being brought here to Sydney. The weather was pretty good, the people were nice but it felt so cramped with people and vehicles around.

To me a holiday has to be a place where I can chill and have fun. I didn't felt like I was when I got there. In fact I got sick. :P Maybe I ate something wrong. Plus the hotel staff there weren't so helpful. Maybe because I was Asian, I don't know, but I certainly didn't felt welcomed there.

I don't know if you can relate to my experience but I felt so relaxed at Brisbane, I was happy all day over there. Australians would just walk by us group of guys and say "Good morning!". Some even chatted with us and waved at the camera when we were video taping their beautiful city.

But when I came down to Sydney, that feeling was gone. I just wanted to get out of there. Maybe the tall buildings, vehicles and people rushing to go to work got me tensed up. To be fair, Sydney was beautiful, especially at night when you walk by the river, but I didn't felt as relaxed as I was in Brisbane.

So is Singapore still a good place to visit?

From that experience and my experiences from other holidays visits. A few factors come to my mind why Singapore isn't a viable destination.
  1. Lack of natural attraction (eg: waterfalls, mountains, natural beaches)
  2. High cost of living / too expensive (eg: accommodation, food, shopping)
  3. Not a relaxing place to visit (this point is up to you to decide if this is true)

But, it isn't all that bad, Singapore has it's good points.
  1. Safe and secure
  2. Clean and maintained
  3. Efficient service standards (this point is controversial)
  4. Public transports are available to get to your destination (eg: taxis, buses, MRT)
  5. Easily connected country (eg: lots of roads, train tracks)
  6. Wireless connected country (well this depends on where you are on the island)

There many other points you can think of but I think the points above serves the reason why Singapore is a good place for conventions, meetings and still be a nice place to visit. I mean you can't hold demonstrations here, there's security almost everywhere, you can get to your conventions quite easily. And with big important conventions there is always an extra security, better service standards, and more available transportation.

Singapore, herself has had a better than expected showing of tourists coming to this country last year. 10.3 million tourists, that's up by 5.4%. Singapore has been seeing a steady rise of tourist visits since 2004.

The major dips we had were during the past decade were in 1997, 1998, due to the Asian Financial Crisis, 2001, due to September 11 ; and 2003 due to SARS. Those major events affects Singapore's viability.

Probably, this few months isn't a "hot" period for tourist travel but we still have our Year End Sale/Christmas Sale coming to attract the tourists in. Not to mention the Formula 1; Singapore to hold the world's first Formula 1 night race.

We also have the biggest Ferris wheel in the world, The Singapore Flyer (although I don't think this record will be there long).

In terms of Night life, Singapore is one of the top 5 places to visit.

In future projects, we have the 2 IRs with Universal Studios theme park and Dreamworks Studios in it. In Sentosa, if you see now, is going through a revamp with more shops, more entertainment, to prepare itself for the IR.

Also the upcoming Youth Olympics will be held here!

With all these going on, Singapore is going through a number of changes. MRT lines will be extended and more MRT stations will be build in the island. So you can get anywhere around Singapore with just your Ez-Link.

The CBD and Marina Bay areas will be lighten up with their skyscrapers and buildings having lights around it as part of their architectural design.

Final Note

Singapore may not have the natural beauty like other countries, but we are still a nice place to visit with all these interesting things coming up and the good points that I mentioned above.

The government hopes to receive 17 million visitors per year by 2015. That's 7 million more tourist than last year.

The one major factor I am worried about is space. With all the foreign talents and tourists coming into our country, will there be enough space? Will there be more traffic congestion? Do we have enough accommodations like hotels, and hostels?

What do you think?

Click here to know about what Singapore has to offer as a tourist destination.


Eterndreamz said...

maybe he is jus a tour guide. tats y he feel tat not many tourist are not coming to sg.

pls tell him, now days there's somthing call free n easy.

i went hk, taipei, tokyo n austin oso by free n easy.

as u can see sg, is such a nice n convenience place. who needs a tour guide.

Fitness | Design Jurulatih said...

Yeah probably,

I guess some sectors will be affected accordingly as Singapore progresses.

I just hope he don't lose his job.