Singapore Budget 2015: Relook tourism sector before Singapore loses out, MPs urge

SINGAPORE should relook its tourist attractions and unique selling points given intensifying competition for the global tourist dollar, some MPs said in Parliament on Friday.

Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Nee Soon GRC) expressed concerns that Singapore might be losing out to other countries which are significantly stepping up efforts to draw more tourists.

"Are we re-inventing ourselves with new attractions, new packages? Is the Great Singapore Sale really great? Or has online shopping taken a part of its business? We also need to pay attention to the F1 Night Race before it too loses its attraction," Dr Lim said.

"I think we should look at how our tourism business is being handled and we need to rethink or overhaul our approach. This is especially since we are going to build Terminal 5 and we don't want to see a ghost town at Changi."

Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) noted that there was a 3.1 per cent decrease in tourist arrivals last year, the first decline since 2009.

This was partly due to the strengthening Singdollar, which makes Singapore relatively pricier for tourists.

Mr Gan asked how Singapore might overcome this hurdle "by adding value so that our visitors will find their trips here worth the while".

He also pointed out that total tourism receipts had stayed constant last year despite fewer tourist arrivals, as per capita spending has risen.

Adding that this is "encouraging", he asked how the Ministry of Trade and Industry intends to maintain this expenditure trend.