Singapore Tourism Awards celebrate excellence as tourist arrivals continue to grow

Ms Liza Bakar, 48, a team leader of guest services at Ce La Vi, was awarded the Singapore Tourism Award for best customer service for Nightspots during the ceremony on May 8, 2018.
Ms Liza Bakar, 48, a team leader of guest services at Ce La Vi, was awarded the Singapore Tourism Award for best customer service for Nightspots during the ceremony on May 8, 2018.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Ms Liza Bakar, 48, was having a tough day.

The team leader of guest services at Ce La Vi Singapore, a rooftop bar and restaurant at Marina Bay Sands, was shorthanded and having to deal with multiple difficult situations at once.

It was not surprising when a group of guests took the opportunity that night to leave without paying their bill.

Her next step, however, came as a shock to her staff, who wanted to pool their money to pay for the loss. Instead, Ms Liza took full responsibility, and paid the bill out of her own pocket.

It was an example of the leadership, as well as her impeccable customer service, which clinched her the Singapore Tourism Award for Best Customer Service for Nightspots at a ceremony held on Tuesday (May 8).

Organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), and graced by President Halimah Yacob, the Singapore Tourism Awards 2018 recognised exceptional achievements in delivering experience and excellence in enterprise.

Other than Ms Liza, 28 other individuals and organisations were awarded accolades at the ceremony.

Asked what keeps her going, Ms Liza, who has been in the service industry for more than 20 years, said: "What motivates me are the people - the tourists. I always put myself in the guests' shoes when I serve them, and try to give them the memorable 'wow' experience. At the end of the day, they are not just customers to me, but friends."

Clinching the highest accolade of the evening was Dr. Kiat W. Tan, founding chief executive officer of the National Parks Board and Gardens by the Bay. Dr Tan, who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism, spent over 30 years of his life dedicated to the greening of Singapore. He played a pivotal role in the development of Gardens by the Bay and redevelopment of Singapore Botanic Gardens, both of which have become world-famous attractions.

STB chief executive Mr Lionel Yeo said: "I am heartened to see many fresh and remarkable experiences delivered by our award finalists and recipients each year. It is our hope that their passion for what they do will play a part in the telling of the great Singapore story, of how passion is made possible through grit and determination."

Singapore had a record 17.4 million tourists last year who spent a total of $26.8 billion, also a historical high, noted Mr Yeo.

"While this is something for us to be proud of, we cannot take this growth for granted," he said.

"If we wish to position ourselves for more growth in the future, we must continue to work together to offer a unique value proposition that is not easily replicated elsewhere."