Singapore's tourism industry can expect new challenges in the next 50 years: PM Lee

Visitors watching panda Jia Jia during their 15 minutes in the Giant Panda Forest enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on Nov 29, 2012, the first day the enclosure was opened to the public. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Visitors watching panda Jia Jia during their 15 minutes in the Giant Panda Forest enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on Nov 29, 2012, the first day the enclosure was opened to the public. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The Waterfall Aviary, a 30m-tall, manmade waterfall, the world's highest inside an aviary at the Jurong Bird Park. PM Lee Hsien Loong said there were plans to develop a new bird park in Mandai to replace the one in Jurong. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The Waterfall Aviary, a 30m-tall, manmade waterfall, the world's highest inside an aviary at the Jurong Bird Park. PM Lee Hsien Loong said there were plans to develop a new bird park in Mandai to replace the one in Jurong. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The Flower Dome and Cloud Dome at Gardens by the Bay against a backdrop of ships anchored in the waters off the south-eastern coast of Singapore, July 21,  2012. To grow Singapore's tourism industry over the next 50 years, the country has t
The Flower Dome and Cloud Dome at Gardens by the Bay against a backdrop of ships anchored in the waters off the south-eastern coast of Singapore, July 21,  2012. To grow Singapore's tourism industry over the next 50 years, the country has to invest in capabilities, refresh its attractions and deepen its engagement with locals. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - To grow Singapore's tourism industry over the next 50 years, the country has to invest in capabilities, refresh its attractions and deepen its engagement with locals.

These are the ways Singapore can overcome competition from other destinations and a labour shortage, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday night.

He was speaking to tourism industry leaders, stakeholders and front-line staff at the Tourism50 gala dinner at Gardens by the Bay, organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to celebrate 50 years of tourism development and industry partnerships.

He noted how Singapore's tourism landscape has changed, from having only a handful of attractions in 1964 - when STB's predecessor was formed - to its world-class attractions today.

"To keep Singapore special and to keep the tourists coming, we must grow the tourism industry by raising the quality of the experience and the value of every tourist, rather than solely by increasing the visitor numbers," he said.

Singapore will continue to bring in new events like last weekend's Women's Tennis Association Finals, and spruce up older attractions. There are "bold plans" to develop Mandai, including a new Bird Park to replace the one in Jurong, he said.

The Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay are also far from finished. There are plans to expand the Gardens by the Bay on the eastern side in the longer-term, Mr Lee added. 

mellinjm@sph.com.sg