The National Gallery Singapore won big at the annual Singapore Tourism Awards yesterday.
The museum, which opened last November, took one of the top awards - the breakthrough contribution to tourism award. It also won the best attraction experience award, beating Marina Bay Sands' ArtScience Museum, Gardens by the Bay and Resorts World Sentosa's Universal Studios Singapore.
The breakthrough award was for the National Gallery's role in "helping to cement Singapore's position as one of Asia's leading art hubs, adding to the vibrancy of Singapore's tourism landscape", said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), which organised the awards.
These are the most prestigious awards for the tourism sector here.
Four special awards were given to outstanding individuals for their contribution to the industry - Mr Rajakumar Chandra, chairman of the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association; Ms Carolyn Kan, founder and designer of Carrie K Jewellery; Ms Lynette Lee, chief executive officer of the Textile and Fashion Federation; and Mr Arthur Kiong, chief executive officer of Far East Hospitality.
BEST ATTRACTION EXPERIENCE
National Gallery Singapore
BEST DINING EXPERIENCE
Odette, The Lo & Behold Group
BEST HOTEL EXPERIENCE
The St Regis Singapore
BEST NIGHTSPOT EXPERIENCE
CE LA VI Singapore
BEST SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
DFS Wine & Spirits Duplex, DFS Group
BEST TOUR EXPERIENCE
The Intan Signature Tea Experience, The Intan
BEST LEISURE EVENT
Halloween Horror Nights 5, Resorts World Sentosa
A total of 29 individuals and organisations were honoured at the ceremony held at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. Winners included The St Regis Singapore and nightspot CE LA VI Singapore.
STB chief executive Lionel Yeo noted that this year, the awards also recognise enterprise excellence and creative marketing approaches, while maintaining an emphasis on delivering outstanding experiences to visitors. He said this was in line with STB's strategy of attracting tourists who spend more time here while spending more.
Last year, visitor arrivals grew a modest 0.9 per cent to 15.2 million, while tourism receipts fell below expectations, dipping 6.8 per cent to an estimated $22 billion.
Award winners told The Straits Times the sector needs diverse, authentic attractions to draw visitors.
National Gallery Singapore's chief executive Chong Siak Ching said the arts and culture add to the diversity of Singapore's attractions. To attract repeat visitors - it has received more than a million visitors - some of its exhibitions are changed every three to five months.
Attractions also have to showcase Singapore's heritage in an authentic way, said Mr Rajakumar. "In Little India, you don't see modernised buildings, and everything happens on the streets. You can see the trades, such as garland-makers and goldsmiths," he said. This helped the precinct attract a record 3.4 million visitors during last year's Deepavali celebrations, he said.
Mr Kiong said STB's strategy of pursuing high-yield tourists pits Singapore against the likes of Paris, Tokyo and London. "We're not competing on price, or against Bangkok or Bali, any more," he said.
"The integrated resorts were game-changers. So were the Formula One races. But what's next?"