Little, if anything, can be done to improve the Singapore Botanic Gardens. That was the general opinion shared by visitors to the newly crowned Unesco World Heritage Site when The Straits Times visited yesterday. "Its current state is good," said Mr Jimmy Lim, 43, who works in sales.
"(Getting the heritage site status) hasn't made much of a difference to us. We like the green, open spaces here, where the kids can run around." The father of two visits the gardens every few months with his three siblings and their families, usually for picnics at the open field beside Swan Lake.
Mr Kenny Suen, 52, agreed.
The chartered surveyor from Hong Kong, who has been working in Singapore for three years, started visiting the gardens only six months ago, but now goes three to four times a month.
Expatriate Nirmala Shanker, 41, who has lived here for eight years, said she "wouldn't change" anything about the gardens.
WOULDN'T CHANGE ANYTHING
It's a great place to come on weekends with the children...
I think they should just focus on preserving and conserving it the way it is.
MS NIRMALA SHANKER, 41, an expatriate who has lived here for eight years, on the charm of the Singapore Botanic Gardens
"It's a great place to come on weekends with the children... I think they should just focus on preserving and conserving it the way it is," she said.
However, some visitors believed more could be done to explain the Gardens' history.
Mr A.P. Ng, 42, who works in e-commerce, said: "My daughters were telling me about this red brick path in the gardens. They saw the gardens in the news yesterday and wanted to come."
The red bricks that make up one of the gardens' staircases were made by Australian prisoners of war held by the Japanese in Changi during World War II.
They are etched with small arrows, a mark of passive resistance against their captors.
Mr Ng suggested that more educational signs about the gardens' history could be put up to allow visitors to appreciate the park from a different perspective.
Speaking on the sidelines of a People's Association event yesterday, Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran noted that it is important for Singapore to manage the balance between visitorship and maintaining the gardens' natural beauty, something that the Singapore Tourism Board will work on.
"We will have to work very closely with the National Parks (Board) and other stakeholders on how we can manage the heightened interest in our Botanic Gardens going forward," he said.
•Additional reporting by Melissa Lin