SINGAPORE - Major changes are in store for Sentosa, the adjacent Pulau Brani and the waterfront areas along Tanjong Pagar, with plans being drawn up to develop new attractions and brand this area as the Southern Gateway of Asia.
For example, there are plans to reshape the entire island of Sentosa to provide more scope for new attractions and investments.
This was announced by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat at the opening of travel trade show ITB Asia on Wednesday (Oct 17), as he spoke about strategies to enhance Singapore's attractiveness to tourists.
It was earlier announced that the relocation of port terminals including Tanjong Pagar and Pasir Panjang to Tuas will free up land for a new waterfront city dubbed the Greater Southern Waterfront, which will include housing as well as commercial and entertainment uses.
On Wednesday, Mr Chee said government agencies are drawing up development plans for Pulau Brani and the Greater Southern Waterfront, and "this expanded canvas, which is as large as Sentosa Island itself, will provide exciting opportunities for us to develop new tourism attractions and anchor this precinct as the Southern Gateway for Asia".
Speaking to the media after his speech, Mr Chee said that with the port at Tanjong Pagar moving out in the coming years, there is "greater scope to take an overall view of how we can develop the whole area not just for tourism, but also for other uses," including commercial and residential. Hotels and other tourism infrastructure for Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions)-related activities are among the possibilities, he said.
The growing cruise industry may also play a part, and there is scope for the Marina Bay Cruise Centre to be developed further, Mr Chee said.
As for Sentosa, he said it must be "well-integrated with what we're going to do on the main island of Singapore".
He said areas being studied include improving the island's connectivity and attractiveness, for example by rejuvenating existing infrastructure and facilities as well as bringing in new attractions.
"One area which I am personally very keen to see how we can explore and push ahead is how we can encourage more activities at night on Sentosa," Mr Chee said, adding that the cooler weather would be conducive to organising events and activities that can attract Singaporeans.
In his speech at the opening of the three-day conference and exhibition at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Mr Chee said the Government's overall tourism strategy includes investing in quality attractions and reinventing Singapore's offerings.
For example, Orchard Road, the subject of an ongoing study to come up with measures to rejuvenate the precinct, can be more than Singapore's main shopping belt, he said.
It can be a "green oasis in the city centre", and an innovation district where firms including start-ups and social entrepreneurs can test new ideas, said Mr Chee, who is also Senior Minister of State for Education.
"We want to create that buzz, that dynamism and from there you will attract footfall. And with footfall you will be able to support the businesses there," he said.
More details on the plans for both Sentosa and Orchard Road will be made known in six to nine months, he told the media.
In his speech, Mr Chee also mentioned that a streamlined procedure and online portal for tourist guide licence applications will be launched in the second quarter of next year.
The ITB Asia trade show, which is expected to draw more than 11,000 visitors over three days, features a Muslim Travel Pavilion for the first time, to share insights into the growing market. The number of Muslim travellers worldwide is expected to exceed 150 million by 2020.