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Singapore Tourism Board spending $20m to woo tourists: A look at past STB campaigns

Published on Apr 8, 2015 3:18 PM

This article was first published on April 9, 2014 and updated on April 8, 2015

SINGAPORE - With a travel lull looming, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is digging into its pockets to start a $20-million global marketing campaign to draw visitors here during the nation’s Golden Jubilee year.

The investment – co-funded by STB and the tourism industry – was announced by Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran on April 7 at the Tourism Industry Conference 2015. It came after a dismal showing last year, with 15.1 million visitors to the Republic – 3.1 per cent down from 2013 and the first drop since 2009.

Tougher regional competition and a strong Singapore dollar have contributed to the slowdown. To offset the trend, the campaign will target tourists from seven countries – Indonesia, China, India, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

Whether the campaign will work is left to be seen. Here's a look back at the agency's past tourism campaigns.

In 1984, the tourism board, known as Singapore Tourist Promotion Board (STPB) then, launched its first branding exercise. It ran for 11 years until 1995. The slogan came about because of an observation that many tourists were surprised to find Singapore different from what they had expected. An article from The Straits Times in 1979, before the launch of the campaign, said: "Visitors often express surprise over the city's clean and green image, its safe streets and the quality of the hotels and their services."

In 1991, STPB came up with the tagline "Fascinating Malaysia, Surprising Singapore, two great countries, one great holiday". It was part of a US$1 million (S$1.75 million) campaign to promote Singapore and Malaysia as a dual-destination for tourists. The campaign ran for two years in Korea, Canada, the United States, Finland and Sweden. There was print advertising and trade support to enlist the co-operation of travel agents in the five target countries to promote Malaysia and Singapore and organise tour packages to both destinations.



In 1996, with the slogan "New Asia Singapore", STPB repositioned Singapore as a tourist destination. The tagline then was "New Asia Singapore: So easy to enjoy, so hard to forget". The tagline was said to capture the essence of Singapore which, located at the heart of the world's most active economic region, had managed to preserve and nurture its Asian heritage, according to Mr Tan Chin Nam, then chief executive of STPB.

In 2003, a campaign called Singapore Roars! was started to get more travellers in the post-Sars period, when travel numbers had dipped drastically. The campaign cost $200 million and lasted six months. It included several big events like Bollywood Extravaganza and the World Wrestling Entertainment Smackdown and a two-day ZoukOut.  Hundreds of  travel packages and deals were introduced to woo visitors back.

In 2004, STB launched its Uniquely Singapore brand, which had a lukewarm reception. But the tagline did work out and it became commonly known among the locals as well as visitors.    

STB also marketed Singapore with the romantic angle.

In 2010, STB rebranded its Uniquely Singapore campaign to YourSingapore, which it says "underpins Singapore’s strengths as a destination, that is, an experience which can be easily personalised".


In 2013, STB launched its Singapore Shiok video, which showed a Caucasian man struggling to pronounce the Singlish expression for extreme pleasure, then earning his Singaporean friends' approval when he finally succeeds. The video drew mixed reactions. Some thought it was a clever play on a uniquely Singaporean concept, but others felt it was patronising to foreigners and some parts of the video seemed to be stretching the meaning of "shiok" a little.

Besides these, STB has also come up with campaigns that were targeted at specific regions, such as this one telling Australians to "Get lost" that was started in March 2012. 

That same month, STB launched a campaign titled "The holiday you take home with you" that was aimed at people on the Indian sub-continent. Indian actress Mandira Bedi starred in the video which showed off Singapore's charm.

In 2013, the board even produced a short web series for the Thailand market called Infinite Love. 

In 2014, STB released a video produced by Philippine network ABS-CNB in an effort to customise content for the country's audiences, The video went viral, and was even picked up by British newspaper The Telegraph, but for all the wrong reasons - its low production quality, and cheesy script. STB at the time acknowledged that the video could have been done better.

The advertisement was uploaded to STB’s Facebook page for the Philippines. It was also shared on its YouTube channel and featured on TV there. STB later withdrew the video.