A familiar pitstop on the international business events circuit, Singapore has come off successive record highs in tourist arrivals. In 2018, the island city-state welcomed over 2.7 million visitors for business events, representing a healthy 10% increase.
Exciting times lie ahead for the city. Over the next few years, Singapore is due to receive several large-scale tourism developments that will pack more diverse offerings within an already compact destination.
In addition to the rejuvenation and expansion of integrated resorts and leisure attractions, a second central business district is being mapped out in the western part of the island that could help Singapore attract business events, especially those from new and emerging industries.
"There continues to be signs of confidence in Singapore's tourism sector over the longer term. There is a strong pipeline of investments into hotels, attractions and other tourism infrastructure," said Keith Tan, chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
"The broad point to make is that Singapore is always on the lookout for areas and districts that we can rejuvenate," Tan explained. "We look to remake places to be more in line with trends, times and expectations of 'bleisure' visitors."
The rejuvenation efforts touch on areas from Sentosa Island to the entire Southern Waterfront, Jurong, Mandai and Orchard Road.
Excitement has been building over the announced expansion of the island's two integrated resorts through a massive S$9 billion (US$6.61 billion) investment by 2026. The lofty plans for Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) will inject new tourism and MICE facilities, as well as attractions.
Among the key developments at MBS are a fourth tower, a 15,000-seat arena focused on entertainment, and expanded meeting and event spaces by about 30 to 40%.
At RWS, several new attractions spanning 164,000sqm will be added, increasing the size of its current attractions by 50%. Its waterfront promenade area will be revamped with dining options, two new hotels with about 1,100 rooms, and a 37-metre-tall public attraction with free evening light shows. The changes will be rolled out progressively, with at least one per year as part of the reinvestment.
The move will cater to the global trend for "higher flexibility and customisable venues to support experiential meetings that will help it target more top-tier events in the 'business-leisure' segment", a spokesperson for RWS said.
The larger Sentosa island will also be undergoing a refresh that will add a new 24,500-sqm lifestyle enclave, Siloso Green, on the western end of the island. It will feature a shipping-container theme and house eateries, shops, concert and event spaces.
In Mandai, the trio of nature attractions - Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari - will be rejuvenated to improve guests experience through digital technology. Also upcoming is the Mandai eco-tourism hub that will include the new Bird Park and Rainforest Park, which will be opened in stages over the next four years.
New order of business
In the western part of Singapore, there are plans to carve out a 360-hectare commercial and regional centre by 2026. The Jurong Lake District, a mixed-use urban precinct, will also be a testbed for cutting-edge technology.
"We've noticed from BT MICE visitors a desire not just to sit and listen to talks, but also see and experience what's going on. If we are able to create an ecosystem where can see such tools being tested live in that district in streets, that makes it a far more compelling destination for them," commented Tan.
The district will also have a waterfront tourism development with attractions, hotel and other lifestyle offerings.
Looking ahead, Singapore is focusing on key sectors such as professional services, technology and food and beverage. "As these clusters are aligned to Singapore's key economic sectors and play well to our strengths, we are confident that Singapore will provide many opportunities for decision-makers, event organisers and business executives looking to chart a path in this space," said Melissa Ow, deputy chief executive, STB.