Tourism gets $700m boost

Children getting to role-play firefighters at Kidzania Singapore, which opened at Sentosa on April 12 this year.
Children getting to role-play firefighters at Kidzania Singapore, which opened at Sentosa on April 12 this year.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

Fund to be used to tap big data for insights into visitors' behaviour; plan for central info hub

Chinese tourists to Singapore tend to make a detour to temples before visiting the integrated resorts.

While one can only hazard a guess at the reason, more of such insights, pieced together from various sources by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), could be on the way to help tourism players better understand the behaviours of travellers here.

Yesterday, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said that the Government was giving the tourism industry a $700 million boost for the next five years until 2020.

Among its other uses, the fund will tap big data to gain insights into visitors' behaviour.

The money will also be used to attract and train industry professionals, and grow the cruise industry, Mr Iswaran added.

  • SOME ATTRACTIONS THAT OPENED IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS

  • GARDENS BY THE BAY

    The 101ha attraction at Marina Bay consists of three gardens and two air-conditioned conservatories. It opened in June 2012.

    RIVER SAFARI

    The 12ha river-themed wildlife park in Mandai features animals from eight freshwater habitats and is also home to giant pandas, Kai Kai and Jia Jia. It opened in February 2014.

    LEE KONG CHIAN NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

    Singapore's first and only natural history museum is home to more than 560,000 catalogued lots of specimens, from animals to fossils, which were previously in the vaults of the former Raffles Museum. It opened in April 2015.

    NATIONAL GALLERY SINGAPORE

    The 64,000 sq m art museum houses the largest public collection of Singapore and South-east Asian art. Occupying the former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, it opened in November 2015.

    KIDZANIA SINGAPORE

    The theme park at Sentosa offers visitors the chance to role-play some 60 jobs such as a museum curator, fireman and surgeon. It opened on April 12 this year.

    Melissa Lin

Speaking at a tourism industry conference, he said the last two years have been challenging. Last year, visitor arrivals grew a modest 0.9 per cent to 15.2 million, while tourism receipts fell below expectations, dipping by 6.8 per cent to an estimated $22 billion.

While the industry is keeping an eye on long-term growth opportunities, it also needed to be able to deal with short-term volatility, he said.

The STB will ramp up marketing efforts in secondary cities in China, Indonesia and India, and explore newer markets like Myanmar, said its chief executive Lionel Yeo.

It is also enhancing a fund aimed at attracting business travellers, who on average spend double that of a leisure traveller.

Among leisure travellers, the STB has identified families with young children, working millennials and active silvers - retirees and the elderly - as target markets.

Also in the works is a central hub where businesses can contribute information about their offerings, making it more efficient for travel agencies and aggregators to plan tour packages.

"In this repository of information and services, our businesses will be able to cross-share and freely access one another's content and services... (removing) a lot of friction in how we exchange content," said STB's chief technology officer Quek Choon Yang.

The aim, he said, is to transform Singapore into a single, unified "mega-attraction", enabled by a one-stop mobile application where visitors can get the information and services they need.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic's senior tourism lecturer, Dr Michael Chiam, who attended the conference, said the challenge in harnessing big data is getting industry players to share their data.

Welcoming the initiative, he said: "The mindset behind it is that we're all interconnected...and if we can pool data together, it'd be better off for all of us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2016, with the headline 'Tourism gets $700m boost'. Print Edition | Subscribe