Tourism Board helps more local firms create products that tell a unique Singapore story for visitors

The Farm Store, which sells quirky Singapore-themed items, released its own line of cushions featuring parts of the Singapore skyline in July 2017 with help from the Experience Step-Up Fund.
The Farm Store, which sells quirky Singapore-themed items, released its own line of cushions featuring parts of the Singapore skyline in July 2017 with help from the Experience Step-Up Fund.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

 SINGAPORE - Visitors to Singapore splurged on souvenirs, gifts and confectionery last year, with the Singapore Tourism Board disclosing on Tuesday (April 17) that spending on these items jumped by 26 per cent in 2017.

STB chief executive Lionel Yeo, who revealed the figure at the annual tourism industry conference, said the board was working towards providing an even greater array of choice of these items in the future.

He said: "We hope to delight our visitors with an even greater array of quality souvenirs and products from local brands, so that they can bring a piece of Singapore home with them."

As of this month (April) 14 firms have turned to the STB's Experience Step-Up Fund to meet the growing market for unique local souvenirs.

Launched in 2015, the fund supports the creation of experiences that make Singapore more attractive to tourists. About 50 other companies have also tapped it.

The Farm Store, which sells quirky Singapore-themed items, released its own line of cushions featuring parts of the Singapore skyline in July 2017 with help from the Experience Step-Up Fund.

The Farm Store's brand manager, Ms Mabel Low, said they were excited when they learnt about the Experience Step-Up Fund.

"We wanted to make more of our own products, and this was a way for us to kick start our own designs," she said. The firm has sold around 40 per cent of its stock of cushions since launching the line.

Ms Low said she thought the market for local souvenirs and gifts was growing because visitors were seeking more than just trinkets.

The growing demand for local souvenirs has not gone unnoticed by companies with long histories. Tea merchant Pek Sin Choon, which was founded in 1925, supplies more than 90 per cent of the tea leaves used in bak kut teh (pork rib soup) meals in Singapore.

Its assistant general manager, Mr Yuen Eng Wah, said the firm received "at least $35,000"  from STB's Experience Step-Up Fund last year which helped with the design, prototyping, production and marketing of a new product that the company hopes would eventually also appeal to tourists.

The "PSC heritage portable tea brewing combo set" comprises a tea box that can turn into a serving tray, five types of oolong tea, and a teapot set. It weighs around 700g and the first batch launched in January sold out in a week.

Asked what he thought about the demand for local souvenirs and confectioneries, Mr Yuen replied: "People now are looking for something with a story and with heritage. They don't just want a product."

STB's director of attractions, dining and retail, Ms Ranita Sundra, said: "Our local souvenirs are intrinsic to how visitors experience and understand the heritage and stories of Singapore. By bringing home a piece of Singapore, it also builds towards their trip memories as they share their experiences with family and friends."