Tours, year-end sale in renewed push to boost heartland businesses

The first series of tours, held from November 2020 to this February, saw up to 100 participants in each tour. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - To revitalise the businesses and vibrancy of heartland neighbourhoods as Singapore reopens its economy, a second series of Rediscover Heartlands Tours will return on May 8.

These will include 10 destinations, such as Clementi Town and People's Park Food Centre, and be accompanied by live reports on SPH Media Trust's (SMT) Mandarin radio stations UFM100.3 and 96.3 Hao FM.

Registration for the first tour will open in mid-April on this website.

The first series of tours, held from November 2020 to this February, saw up to 100 participants in each tour.

The returning tours are part of a series of initiatives aimed at driving footfall to merchants and hawkers in the heartland, under the tripartite memorandum of understanding (MOU) renewed by SMT's Chinese Media Group (CMG), the Federation of Merchants' Associations, Singapore (FMAS), and Heartland Enterprise Centre Singapore (HECS) on Friday (April 8). The MOU was first signed in September 2020.

The three parties will collaborate on various projects aimed at strengthening Singapore's heartland identity over the next 12 months.

Among the initiatives planned is a fortnightly series featuring the history and attractions of 12 heartland areas, as part of a collaboration between Shin Min Daily News and HECS.

A large-scale sale event with heartland businesses will also be launched at the end of the year, with more details to be announced later.

To further support merchants and hawkers, members of FMAS and HECS can receive a 10 per cent discount on advertisements placed on SPH Media platforms.

Heartland shops and hawkers were badly affected during the pandemic, and continue to be affected by changing consumer behaviour and increasing competition, said FMAS president Yeo Hiang Meng.

For the second iteration of the heartland tours, the organisations hope to draw more younger visitors, tourists and foreigners working in Singapore to the heartland.

HECS chairman Kwek Theng Swee said: "Each heartland encapsulates the essence of our HDB way of life, and it will be a unique experience for tourists who are interested in understanding Singapore on a deeper level."

He also noted that young people are less keen on patronising places such as wet markets, as compared with shopping malls.

Citing the popularity of outdoor markets in Britain and Australia, Ms Lee Huay Leng, editor-in-chief of SMT's CMG, said that Singapore's heartland areas have the potential to become well-known attractions for tourists and locals alike.

The three organisations will also continue to organise seminars and awards that highlight enterprises and hawkers who have transformed their businesses through digitalisation and innovation, as well as shaped the local hawker scene.

Aimed at helping heartland businesses to navigate the challenges of a post-pandemic business environment, these events include the SG Hawker Seminar, Singapore Hawkers Awards, Singapore Heartland Enterprise Seminar and Singapore Heartland Enterprise Star Awards.

Launched last year, the inaugural Singapore Hawker Awards saw 15 hawkers recognised for their exemplary hawker brands and efforts in shaping the local hawker scene.

This year's winners will receive their awards next Monday, and the ceremony will be live-streamed over Zoom from 2pm.

Mr Yeo said: "Our heartland shops and hawkers play an important role in the lives of many Singaporeans, providing affordable goods, services and food in our neighbourhoods.

He added: "These initiatives aim to continue to help our neighbourhood enterprises and our hawkers transform, revitalise and sustain their businesses."

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