Tourism background in Singapore
Tourism is at its rapid expanding stage. Being in the 21st century, most of people are traveling and visiting attractions all around the world. There are seven continents on earth and these continents constitutes of many states and even tiny islands that can be considered as a tourism destinations and attractions. Where it is accessible, there will be tourists.
Singapore has one of the largest service sectors in tourism. For Singapore to take this advantage as a tourism destination, it has contributed 3% of Singapore's GDP which has generated a sum of US$ 9.4 billion in 2007. As one of the most popular countries in Asia, Singapore has been growing rapidly for the past few years. With the help of the tourism industry, it has strengthened the infrastructure developments, in addition of various events and the countries strategic location in the heart of region. This shows how much the role of tourism industry can play in Singapore's economy. To ensure that tourism remains a key economic pillar, a bold target, Tourism 2015, was unveiled in the year 2005. The objectives of Singapore is to triple the tourism receipts to US$ 30 Billion, doubling visitor arrivals to 17 Million, and creating an additional 100,000 jobs in the services sector by 2015, according to "Opportunities in Singapore Tourism Industry (2007-2009)". Having all these advantages, the negatives are also a factor to look at so by doing this research; I will have a better view on the impacts, advantages and disadvantages in Singapore tourism industry. (Opportunities in Singapore Tourism Industry (2007-2009) - Market Research Reports - Research and Markets)
In the few books I have read like Tourism in South-East Asia, Tourism impacts, planning and management and Tourism management: managing for change. These books are written by the following authors Peter Manson, Michal Hitchcock and Stephen Page. The content of the book have the different kinds of effects from tourism and changes countries have to face and how can they cope with it. I felt that many of the fact that are stated in the books are very agreeable like in the Tourism impacts, planning and management book written by Peter Mason "The impacts of tourism can be positive or beneficial, but also negative or detrimental. Whether impacts are perceived as positive or negative depends on the value position and judgment of the observer of the impacts." This shows that no matter how people research on any of the impacts there are always another way to view positive to a negative and negative to a positive.
The other book I have looked at is Tourism management: managing for change by Stephen Page quoting from the book "It is widely recognized that a range of factor impact upon the success or failure of visitor attractions as tourism enterprises. This has to be viewed against growing visitor expectations during their visit and the need for attractions to improve standards in many countries worldwide." what I have understood is that there are other factors that would affect tourism and tourist has ever changing taste and to keep up countries have to upgrade or maintain what they have now or they would lose out.
Apart from books there are also articles on the internet written by other authors which has all the different attractions on Singapore. So by using the research questions to expand the search of the topic would be a clearer view of achieving the objective. What I want to achieve by doing this research with the help all the secondary findings to understand how Singapore will fair now and the future and what the few attractions they have mentioned are the other older once.
Source of information
Tourism is now a very vase integrated subject involving many sectors. So by researching information on Books like Tourism in South-East Asia, Tourism impacts, planning and management and Tourism management: managing for change the books tells how and what are the different situations. The other source would be from the internet where I can find millions of information regarding tourism and destinations. Using the search engine Google I would search the key word from: Tourism Impact, Singapore tourism, future of Singapore 2015. With just these few words I am able to get a few data on tourism. With all the research I have done in the books and internet, I will all these secondary findings to guide me through my researches.
- What makes Singapore a popular tourism destination?
- What are the challenges faced by Singapore as a tourism destination?
- What are the impacts of tourism?
- How can Singapore maintain and enhance its popularity in the future and overcoming the challenges?
To analyze what attracts tourist to Singapore and why
To understand what challenges faced by Singapore in attracting tourist
Understanding how tourism affects Singapore both positively and negatively.
To find what Singapore can do to remain competitive with other countries in the future.
What makes Singapore a popular tourism destination?
Although Singapore is a small country, the array of entertainment is compatible to other countries. As one of the leading tourist destinations in Asia and with millions of visitors every year, Singapore is popular as a business traveling destination due to the large number of exhibitions and conferences organized every month in Singapore. A destination is a place which is created for a purpose and that is what Singapore has achieved to be. It has created a destination for tourists from all over the world to visit, sometimes especially for its tropical climate. The following attractions have been established or modified to accommodate people to keep interest for tourist and also sustain the tourism industry. To stay popular, Singapore has maintained its standards by improving and expanding its tourist attractions. An example is the allowance of casinos to be built when the plan was denied vigorously for the past few years.
Using SWOT analysis, Singapore's strength in popularity and its opportunities can be analyzed. (SWOT The Sight, Opps! I Meant The Cites | Matador)
Singapore is already one of the leading tourist destinations in Asia, reflecting how developed the country is in terms of tourism. It is one of the most popular business destinations for businessmen because of the well established economy but also of its centralized location which is accessible for all. Due to the rich economy, it attracts even more investors to start their business in Singapore which would help boost its economy. Apart from the economical advantage, Singapore is not only considered as one of the safest countries but also a cosmopolitan one because of the different races living in harmony.
The attractions and hotels are key strengths to boost Singapore's economy. The main categories of the popularity in present Singapore are listed below:
Singapore Sentosa Island a 15 minute drive from the city, it has many recreational facilities including family attractions, sea sports, golf as well as hotel accommodation and with over 20 attractions in this island. A canopy of secondary rainforest taking 70 per cent of the 500-hectare island and is home to monitor lizards, monkeys, peacocks, parrots as well as other native fauna and flora. Sentosa has a 3.2-kilometre stretch of white sand beach, and is the only location in Singapore to offer a sea side accommodation of over 670 hotel rooms. This island is accessible by cable car, bus, taxi or car, the island is open for 24 hours a day. (Welcome to Sentosa)
The Singapore Flyer is the world's largest Giant Observation Wheel which is 165m in height making it one of Asia's biggest tourist attractions. The fixed capsules are comparable to the size of a bus and the spectacular monument is able to hold 784 passengers in total of 28 capsules. Each revolution takes an estimation of 30 minutes for visitors to enjoy the Singapore's landscape. The Singapore Flyer, besides the Marina Barrage, was one of the destinations to view the F1 Night Race held in Singapore in 2009. (About Us - Singapore Flyer)
Resorts World Sentosa
There are going to be a total of 2 integrated resorts that is going to be opening in Singapore at the beginning of the year 2010. The first would be the Resorts World Sentosa that would be the biggest Integrated Resort that takes up 49-hectare. This big piece of land would be made up of six hotels, the Universal Studios Singapore family theme park and MICE facilities that include one of Asia's largest Grand Ballrooms. There would be a lot of entertainment and shows, as well as celebrity chef restaurants, brand-name boutiques and a half-kilometer long shopping and dining Strip named FestiveWalk. (Resorts World Sentosa | Singapore Hotel & Casino Resort | Integrated Resort)
Marina Bay Sands
The second integrated resort would be the Marina Bay Sands, set to become a premier entertainment destination with its various attractions and facilities. Marina Bay Sands will be located along Marina Bay waterfront with its hotel towers and a sky park, 'floating' crystal pavilions and a lotus-inspired Museum. The retail stores would have popular brandings, trendy Celebrity Chef Restaurants, entertainment at the theaters, the hottest night clubs and a Las Vegas-style casino. Business visitors will also enjoy the extensive Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) facilities featuring state-of-the-art technology. Marina Bay Sands combines business and leisure together making it more fun. (About | Marina Bay Sands)
The stability in Singapore is one of the points why tourist comes to Singapore. Riots and protesting are not allowed which will be heavily penalized if it ever to happens. Crime rates are low compared to other countries, from a news article on the internet in New York Times an author wrote about Singapore quoting "An individual can walk through any street in Singapore any time of day without fear. You can leave your car parked on the street and expect to find it there, intact, when you return to it. Criminals using firearms to commit crimes have the book thrown at them, because this is taken as intent to commit grievous bodily harm. Drug peddlers who seek to profit from bringing the pain and misery of addiction to unsuspecting individuals know the risk capital punishment when caught." This is to show Singapore is to be strict to be stable. (But in Singapore Peaceful Citizens Feel Safe - Letter - NYTimes.com)
Singapore is a cosmopolitan country with no racial riots. There is even a special day just to celebrate the harmony of the different races living together. It happens every year on the 21st July and is called the Racial Harmony Day. On this day, students are educated in school to reflect on and celebrate Singapore's success as a harmonious nation and society built on a rich diversity of cultures and heritages. Tourist of all kinds would feel at ease when coming to Singapore as they know they are safe from any discrimination or racial chaos. (About Us)
There are many events that take place in Singapore all year round; one of the more popular events is the COMEX IT fair that happens at Suntec City every year. The fair sells electrical appliances at cheaper prices and often attracts crowds. Another sale event would be the Great Singapore Sales, where all the retail outlets in Singapore sell everything at unexpected low prices.
Festival and Celebrations
Singapore celebrates festivals like no other because it is a multi-racial society constituting of four races Chinese, Indian, Malay and Eurasian. With the different races, Singapore celebrates just about any festival. The more popular ones are Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya and Christmas. During the festive season, decorations and spectacular lightings for each specific event would be displayed at different allocated places.
Celebrations such as the National Day and Chinggay are big events for the country as it celebrates the Singapore's Independence Day. As for Chinggay, the road would be closed for all the parades to taking place on the streets.
Singapore is located at centralized position in Asia so it is easy access for people. This is a great advantage to host events that people would prefer in that region. Tourists visiting Singapore thus increases and Singapore takes this opportunity to improve the infrastructure and create more entertainment hoping that tourist would stay longer. Singapore also tries to promote itself to the regional countries by increasing income from tourism and subsequently increasing the country's GDP. Meeting, Incentives, Conventions & Exhibitions (MICE) is another opportunity Singapore has with the opening of the two integrated resort with MICE and entertainment. Growth in medical tourism industry has also helped the increase in the tourism industry in Singapore. Currently Singapore is 2nd place in medical tourist arrivals and revenue generated from medical tourism. Although the cost of healthcare in Singapore is higher than the other regional destinations, Singapore has better infrastructure and regulations compared to others. (Medical Tourism to keep Singapore Tourism Industry Healthy - Free-Press-Release.com)
The World Expo is going to be held in Shanghai and Singapore is going to be a part of it. The World Expo is a large-scale, global and non-commercial exposition that aims to promote the exchange of ideas and development of the world's economy, culture, science and technology. At the same time, it allows nations to publicize and showcase their achievements as well as improve international relationships. (World Expo 2010)
What are the challenges faced by Singapore as a tourism destination?
Although Singapore current situation is stable however there are challenges faced by this country. I will use the SWOT analysis to analyze Singapore's weakness and threats.
The greatest weakness of Singapore is its land scarcity. Being a small country there is no raw resources and land is of importance. Some natural environment is being cleared for attractions, while others would be occupied by the local's homes. The natural attractions are also limited so the government has created artificial manmade natural attractions like the current Kallang River-Bishan Park ABC Waters Project (PUB-Kallang River) that is on the way. Compared to other countries for example China, Singapore can only host a certain amount of tourists. Crucial resources like water, gas and power are bought from other countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. This shows the limitation of raw resources in Singapore.
The threat Singapore mainly faces is terrorism, which would easily affect many because there are many crowds in Singapore. Being a small country the risk of the attacks would be higher so the security is high in Singapore. Singapore has started an Integrated Resort with casino which hopes to boost the economy in Singapore. With that in mind countries in Asia have started considering the building of a casino or building a new casino which would be a threat for Singapore.
In addition the knowledge of tourism in Singapore in insufficient compared to the western countries. Tourists who visit Singapore may not speak the language being spoken in Singapore, which may cause a language barrier that will decrease their enjoyment. To the nearby region countries Singapore is not far but to countries like the United States and the United Kingdom Singapore quite a distance away, so some would think twice about making the long journey.
What are the impacts of tourism?
PESTE (PEST Analysis - Understanding "Big Picture" Forces of Change)
Political, economical, socio-cultural, technological, environmental
The five elements of the tourism have their advantages. However the disadvantages weigh in importance too. In order to understand this, two different perspectives are observed, which the positive and negative aspects are. Everyone have different perspectives no matter how good a situation may be there is always a downside. By looking at the whole tourism impact, there is a greater understanding about the positives and a deeper knowledge of the problems faced.
Political factors involve the regulations and the government, which would determine how the country would become depending on how well it is being governed. As for Singapore there are many strict rules and regulations. It is a good point to maintain law and order within the country, so as to secure a peaceful mind for tourists. Implementing strict rules to prevent terrorism from happening for example the London train bombing (BBC NEWS | UK | London bombings toll rises to 37) so Singapore has a squad called the Public Transport Security Command to petrol the transports to ensure the safety and security of the public transport system and its users. (Singapore Police Force - About Us - SPF Overview) There are regulations in Singapore that protect tourists such as the overcharging case in Singapore's Newton Hawker Centre, where the hawker was banned for a considerable amount of time from running his business. (channelnewsasia.com - NEA suspends Newton hawker stall's license for overcharging tourist)
Apart from regulations there are no discriminations even in the government cabin where multi racial politicians work together. The diversity of people will be a plus point for tourists to visit Singapore without concerning about their race and believes. By allowing other countries to be promoted in Singapore and promoting Singapore to other countries will improve the diplomatic ties on an international basis.
Increasing tourism would also increase the threat of terrorism which sometimes could happen unexpectedly. An example is the unforgettable tragic event of the 9/11 attack where the twin towers were destroyed and the economy of America plundered, affecting its tourism. Immediately after the disaster, companies were lying off thousands of employees and scrambling to fill empty rooms and seats through steep discounts. Some hotels went as far as to give guests a free night for every one they purchased. Some of the salespeople even stood outside their shops hoping to catch the few tourists passing by. The evolution of travel has changed. It would not have been as easy as it was in the past. (9/11 became bookend of tourism extremes | The Honolulu Advertiser | Hawaii's Newspaper)
Economy is one of the strongest impact contributions to the country. The main bulk of it is to contribute to the country's GDP of 3%, through tax revenues that tourist have to pay resulting in an improvement of the local economy. Also the multiplier effects tourists have to go through from paying for the tickets to come to the country to spending on entrance fees to visit the attractions and also spending on food and souvenirs.
Investors would have incentives to invest in the country to build more attractions and make more developments for the country. The government would tax on what have been developed like attractions and hotels. The increase of investors would also help create more jobs and with jobs the standard of living in the country would increase and thus more people will have disposable income to spend. The attractions that are brought in to country for example in Singapore, theme park are one of the new attractions so it could help reduce the locals from going other countries when there is a theme park in their own country.
Inflation is one of the negative impacts from tourism where it affects the price on land, properties and food. These prices go up because of the increase in demand on local service and tourism destinations. This results in the locals paying at an inflated rate as that of the tourist price which is a disadvantage to them.
Due to the increase in demand for jobs, traditional jobs may be threatened because workers may turn to the tourism industry. There would be part-time, semi-skilled and poorly paid staff too, so some would not have the appropriate experience to work. Seasonal jobs like these could then possibly lead to high rates of unemployment. Countries like Thailand has traditional farming, because of tourism the farmers would quit their traditional jobs and find a job related to tourism that could earn easy money. As the improvement of standards of living goes up, labor cost would also be higher.
Dependency on tourism can be very risky because it may lead to changes overnight. Some causes are natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and change in consumer taste and economic recession in the country. All the factors will cause a country to be affected badly when any one of the causes was to occur, especially if the country relies on tourism too much.
In addition leakage may occur due to the product that tourists have purchased such as goods and services which are imported. Hotels and other tourism related businesses and organization import products/foods because it is not available locally or not up to the required standards of services. The last point in leakage would be the profit that the hospitality companies earn which are owned by foreign owners.
Social and culture involves the people's culture of the country. Tourism creates interest towards the local arts and crafts and traditional cultural activities which includes the cultural life of the local population and architectural traditions. These help to promote awareness of different cultures and the need to conserve them which has aesthetic and cultural value and brings forth responsible cultural tourism. The tourist that goes to visit the cultural activities can get to experience and understand new culture. In addition, they would reduce negative perception on the culture because they have experienced it themselves. The promotion of cultures instills cultural pride to visitors.
For example, in Singapore, the tolerance level is high and it is a norm for the locals because they are already living among different races with different cultural backgrounds.
In some countries the language that tourists speak may not be understandable. For example, an English man goes to Malaysia but the locals only know how to speak Malay that would result in a language barrier.
Tourist who visits a country would have a bad impression on the country through the bad habits that locals have come to be equipped with. For example, urinating or spitting in public would have a bad image on the country.
When one culture comes in contact with another culture sometimes the two different cultured personals may not correspond and result in a cultural conflict. There are values, believes and other factors which causes the disagreement which may result in conflicts.
Lost of authenticity
However one negative point to note that is happening all over the world is that visitors desire to experience the culture of the country they visit such as the ritual dance or performance only done on special occasions and these are done almost every day to satisfy the tourists' needs through paying tourist groups. There would be risks on the locals, in time they may forget the true meaning of the practice and lose the authenticity which includes traditional objects sold as souvenirs. (The Social & Cultural Impacts of Tourism)
For the technological system to keep up with the tourism trends and needs the system also have to be upgraded, be it speed, easier access or user friendliness. Improvements have been made to the internet booking system which leads to more efficient and time-saving booking so therefore able to cater to more tourists at one time. People can also check out the destinations they prefer to visit online before booking tickets.
The comfort of the buses, boats and airlines have also improved. For example, the Airbus A380 has a spacious seat and also private rooms. For buses, there are massage seats and even a KTV room. These new facilities and additional perks would attract more people to travel. Not forgetting the upgraded infrastructures such as the roads, hotels and other amenities.
On the downside, using online internet bookings will result in a higher prone to scams. A website exactly may be designed like a travel company but it is not the authentic website and this may result in credit card fraud. Problems on the internet may occur such as the bookings that did not transact or connection problems in the middle of bookings.
Another negative impact on technology would be that the internet is where people are able to write reviews freely about a country that may implant a negative perspective on a certain country after reading these negative reviews and reject to visit the destination.
In the people's perspectives, the impact of tourism to the environment is usually negative, but there are positive impacts done to try balance the impact more to the positive. What is done is by stimulating tourists to protect the environment like the landscape and wildlife. Tourism can also help to promote the establishment of National Park and Wildlife Reserves and World Wildlife Fund (WWF - WWF). Other then the wildlife tourism can also promote the preservations of monuments like what the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (What is it? What does it do? - About UNESCO | UNESCO.ORG) is doing. The least that tourists can do is to provide the donations to help the all the preservation organizations or paying for entrance charges to historic buildings, heritage sites and wildlife habitats. (Environmental Impacts of Tourism)
The negative impact on tourism is mostly the litter produced from what they eat and use which increases the overall litter in the country. More litter means pollution to the sea and beaches. Litter consists of plastic which are non-biodegradable and would cause many problems if not disposed of appropriately. Animals that are in contact with these plastic items may get caught in them or they may swallow them and die.
The increase of tourist also increases congestion in overcrowding and traffic jams. The tourists who visit natural sites like the forest would result in foot path erosion and kill the plants they step on. The biggest impact done is the increase in attractions and buildings like hotels which also take up a lot of resources in power and water.
Clearing of land
Land are being clear to make way for all these and even cause aesthetic pollutions but also damaging or disturbing the wildlife habitats. The land that are being cleared are usually forest or rainforest which contains millions of different creatures and plants, by clearing it some wildlife will die others would invade the city areas like people's homes which would be killed or hurt. Plants that may have medicinal cure to diseases may also be cleared and all would be gone forever.
How can Singapore maintain and enhance its popularity in the future and overcoming the challenges?
The competition of Singapore with other countries has been a challenge but it has made it. Being the first to do what others have not. Examples like that F1 Night race and the coming 2010 youth Olympics will be held in Singapore as the first of its kind. The need for Singapore to stay competitive is the innovative ideas and the plan to execute these events. In 2005, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr. Lim Hng Kiang showed the planning that is being done to triple Tourism Receipts (TR) to S$30 billion, doubling visitor arrivals (VA) to 17 million, and creating an additional 100,000 jobs in the services sector by 2015.
Tourism is like a product and there is the product life cycle. Singapore is only at its growth stage with a great amount of room for improvement. With the upcoming Youth Olympic, the growth will increase because in the future there would be more new attractions like the two new integrated resorts and theme parks to boost the economy. Although there still maybe a few disadvantages and negative impacts, Singapore can improve and control the banes. Being a small country may have its disadvantage. However, it is that because it is small that it is more easily manageable compared to a big country and its size has transformed to an advantage. Singapore is able to increase tourism whether now or in the future despite the negatives. By looking at the PESTE and SWOT analysis done, Singapore is lacking in some area. Land is one primary point that is inevitable. Other than that, Singapore's entertainment and attractions are limited to just a few from museums to theme parks. There are currently available entertainments but the size and amount of one attraction is limited. Natural attractions are also very scarce, of which most are manmade. Resources like electricity and water in Singapore is limited and to control the amount of tourists consumption would be very difficult. The historic sites are being turn to a more modern looking buildings which loses its authentic look.
The current tourism situation in Singapore is doing quite well and achieving the 2015 would not be a problem with all the new attractions and events coming up. However currently there are advantages and disadvantages in Singapore, the advantage Singapore has now should be maintained and improved. The disadvantages should be overcome or reduced to be competitive in the future.
Enhancement of success factors
The current advantages Singapore is being one of the safest countries with low crime rates for. Natural disasters have a lower percentage of affecting Singapore because it is being surrounded by other countries. The Singapore economy is one of the strongest in the south East Asia and this improves the image and also attracts more tourists as well as the youth Olympics followed on by the new integrated resorts that are opening in early 2010. Singapore could add more advanced technology to the society to enhance the standards of living to make the visit better and easier for visitors. Making the attractions bigger and more entertaining such as adding more rides or facilities to a water theme park or include more historic monument in the museums are also enhancement factors.
Overcoming the challenges
What Singapore lack is the experience needed to have a better standard of service. The service provided is not up to standard because the exposure of service was introduced late. Laws in Singapore are a little too strict not even allowing chewing gum or bird feeding. The biggest challenge would be the resources that Singapore does not have. Singapore compensates these shortcomings by using the new technology like the green solar panels that produce electricity could be implanted at the top of roof on buildings. Sustainable tourism is the best practice for Singapore so that they will do minimal damage or disturbance to the local and environment, at the same time without decreasing the tourist enjoyment.
The tourism industry in Singapore can be a very useful element in the country's economy. However there are many other reasons they can be helpful too. The greatest advantage of tourism is that it helps in the economy. That is the reason for almost every country. They are promoting tourism and trying to attract people to their country. Similarly, without tourism, Singapore would lose three per cent of Singapore's GDP and more than S$12 billion in tourism receipts. (Ministry of Trade and Industry: Singapore Tourism Board (STB)) Looking at the PEST and SWOT analysis countries can help understand and improve the tourism and look after the locals so both party would gain mutually. Throughout the whole research there are many advantages and disadvantages, positives and negatives. However the balance of bad can be controlled with good governance and social responsibility which the media and other tourism related companies can educate the public.