While Singapore can upgrade its tourism offerings from an already developed infrastructure base, developing destinations can probably derive more benefit by addressing fundamental infrastructure first.
Fun is serious business here and the Republic’s attractions will need to be refreshed to head off competition from regional players, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reiterated yesterday at the official opening of the River Safari. The Government is doing its part, he said, with almost S$1 billion set aside in a Tourism Development Fund to help develop new tourism projects, fund new events for leisure and business and upgrade the whole industry.
However, money alone will not do, as the human touch is also important, he stressed. “Tourism is not just about money. It’s a high-touch industry … Technology can help us overcome manpower constraints, but technology can never fully replace the warmth of people-to-people interaction,” Mr Lee said.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry is studying how the Government can do more to give workers the skills and knowledge to do well in the tourism sector.
He noted that the tourism landscape had completely changed over the last 50 years. Singapore needs to continually refresh its attractions and events by enhancing the tourism experience and upgrading the sector as consumers’ tastes will change, facilities and attractions will age and more competitors from other destinations will be stepping up their game.
Upgrading efforts will involve companies, which must provide more interesting and varied options to meet the needs of more discerning travelers. Workers, too, must deliver higher-quality service to meet higher expectations, he added. “Because fun is a serious business in Singapore,” Mr Lee said.
He noted that travelers are also increasingly becoming spoilt for choice and are not attracted only by iconic buildings or infrastructure. Instead, they are looking for good, unique and different experiences that are customised to their interests.