Friendliness important in charming tourists

Over the years, we have methodically and meticulously worked on or improved our allure to tourists ($34m charm offensive to attract visitors to Singapore; April 18).

We conceived award-winning architectural wonders like Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By The Bay. Soon enough, our Jewel at Changi Airport will be up and running.

We have enticed sporting aficionados through events like the Women's Tennis Association and Formula 1, and drawn fans to concerts featuring entertainment megastars.

As we did all this, we also improved accessibility and maintained the all-important security.

However, Singapore has often been derided by lovers of natural beauty, as what we have is often not rapturously beautiful, or is perceived to be contrived and artificial.

More man-made edifices may not impress tourists who prefer small, quaint accommodation, untouched historical buildings and an experience of reliving the past.

Singapore, as a modern metropolis, cannot offer them these, but Singaporeans can.

While we emphasise hardware and modern conveniences, we can also offer tourists old-world charm and affability by being living advertisements of hospitality.

Warmth, friendship and congeniality in a 21st century setting is a winning combination worth millions.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Friendliness important in charming tourists'. Print Edition | Subscribe