Sentosa needs to offer more youth-oriented activities: Experts

Visitors outside Universal Studios Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa. The Hollywood movie theme park is popular with young and old alike. Launched in 2015, the Sentosa cable car line allows visitors to travel easily around the island while enjoying
Launched in 2015, the Sentosa cable car line allows visitors to travel easily around the island while enjoying splendid views of its many attractions.ST FILE PHOTO
Visitors outside Universal Studios Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa. The Hollywood movie theme park is popular with young and old alike. Launched in 2015, the Sentosa cable car line allows visitors to travel easily around the island while enjoying
Visitors outside Universal Studios Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa. The Hollywood movie theme park is popular with young and old alike.ST PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR

Developing nearby islands will also boost its appeal, they say, as SDC works on 2030 masterplan

More youth-oriented activities and the accompanying development of Singapore's other southern islands could make the Sentosa area a more attractive destination, say tourism experts.

Steps are being taken to refresh Sentosa's offerings, as the Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) confirmed it is working on its 2030 masterplan for the island, although details have yet to be revealed.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, SDC said that its last masterplan was introduced in 2002, followed by further efforts to refresh the island's offerings and infrastructure.

Said branding and communications director Tay Cheng Cheng: "In our continual efforts to strengthen the island's value proposition for guests, SDC is inviting international and local urban planners, architects and their allied consultants to assist in the planning of the next phase of Sentosa's development."

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The 10-year 2002 masterplan included refurbishing attractions and introducing new ones, such as the Skyline Luge and Sky Tower, and replacing the monorail with the Sentosa Express rail system, which links Sentosa with VivoCity.

The opening in 2010 of Resorts World Sentosa, home to the country's first casino and Universal Studios Singapore, helped to more than triple the number of visitors to the island, from 6.1 million for financial year 2008/2009 to 19.5 million for FY 2015 /2016.

Even so, said Ngee Ann Polytechnic's senior tourism lecturer, Dr Michael Chiam, an islandwide overhaul of Sentosa is overdue.

"Youth-oriented activities are something that's lacking. Now, the focus is mainly on families," he said.

The upcoming AJ Hackett Bungy, touted as Singapore's first bungee jump, and a nature-based adventure attraction to be developed on a slope connecting Imbiah Lookout to Siloso Beach might help add more vibrancy, said Dr Chiam.

A spokesman for Mega Adventure, which operates a zip line as well as other activities on Siloso Beach, said it had seen 15 per cent year-on-year growth thanks largely to the growing tourist market.

"We are keen to support Sentosa in its drive to encourage more of the resident population to visit the island," said the spokesman, who added that the newly opened tunnel connecting outbound traffic to the mainland increases ease of access.

Another idea could be to develop other southern islands such as St John's and Lazarus, said Dr Chiam, as they are underutilised.

The Singapore Tourism Board had earmarked the islands for development as a new tourism destination, but the plans were put on hold in 2007 for undisclosed reasons.

Such an undertaking would require significant investment, although the development of an island resort getaway far from the city could prove attractive to tourists and locals alike, said Dr Chiam.

Mr Kevin Wee, a senior lecturer at Nanyang Polytechnic's hospitality and tourism management programme, said that development plans for Sentosa and neighbouring islands ultimately depend on which markets they want to attract.

Rising sea levels must also be factored into future plans, he noted.

When ST visited Sentosa yesterday afternoon, Siloso Beach was lively with tourists and families.

Dr Deepika Arora, who recently moved to Singapore and was on her first visit to Sentosa, said that she enjoyed the luge ride.

Said Dr Arora, 30: "There is a lot to see here, and transport options are good, but there should be more covered walkways and fans."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 08, 2017, with the headline 'Sentosa needs to offer more youth-oriented activities: Experts'. Print Edition | Subscribe