Moving beyond tourism for nation branding

People taking photographs at the Merlion Park, on May 22, 2017.
People taking photographs at the Merlion Park, on May 22, 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore's nation branding was not constructed upon tourism alone.

Over five decades, by conscientiously crafting our brand, we have built a strong business infrastructure and a highly distinguished social and political system to position ourselves prominently on the global stage.

These are due in no small part to an exceptional brand guardianship; truly, our sophistication, coordination and sustained investment in nation branding is unrivalled.

The Government has played a stronger hand in our nation branding than other countries with theirs. While the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has been the primary steward, each navigated facelift was intimately collaborated with other significant government bodies.

Nonetheless, while our political leadership and public sector have done remarkably well at giving Singapore its distinguished mark, the country should consider unleashing the full potential of the private sectors and its citizens.

For example, in offering Singapore up as an experience and not a mere destination (Strengthen Singapore as a tourist destination, April 21), all Singaporeans should be a part of the "experience" by upholding the collective task of being the nation's brand ambassadors.

Beyond national pride, successful nation branding will translate to increased tourism, business, trade, exports and investments for the economy.

Competitors within the same industry could also explore cooperative competition to see how they can cooperate for the benefit of the country while competing with one another.

CapitaLand group chief executive Lee Chee Koon said during the Singapore Perspectives conference that Singapore companies abroad are not aiding one another enough.

Pooling resources and working together in the exploration of knowledge and research, and building upon their joint value creation are some ways to do this.

Ultimately, branding a nation requires a more multifaceted approach than branding a bag of chips. The feelings and connotations that enter one's mind when Singapore is mentioned could impact the country financially, socially and politically.

By acknowledging and directing this influence as our nation's collective stakeholders, we can all work to nurture and safeguard our mutually cherished asset - our country.

Lily Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2019, with the headline 'Moving beyond tourism for nation branding'. Print Edition | Subscribe