Why are cities like Singapore an important issue to study within the tourism context? Studying Singapore as a Urban Tourist destination Introduction: Urbanization is a global process, described by Johnston (1981: 363) as a 'process by which: first, an increasing proportion of an area's population become concentrated in its statistically defined urban spaces'. (Hall, 2003: 1) From the past we can see that a number of towns and cities have evolved as important locations for tourism activity. During the renaissance period, a number of educational institutions, health spas and religious centers in Europe attracted a large number of people to urban destinations. According to law (1993: 1) 'large cities are arguably the most important type of tourist destination across the world' and yet urban areas have greatly been neglected in the most academic studies of tourism...
(Hall, 2003: 9) The expansion in unrestricted leisure time and increased standards of living has contributed to the demand of travel. The management of this process had been misunderstood and very limited research has been done towards this endeavor. A notable feature of the pattern of tourist travel is the significance of urban destinations serving as gateways for tourist entry for the country. For example, the development of Bangkok as a tourist destination can be attributed to it being a gateway to a large extent. Since little emphasis has been paid towards tourism research in urban areas, the public sector doesn't see the need to understand the urban tourist and that essentially is the crux of problems of unplanned urban destinations. Many a times, the development is so haphazard that it can have adverse effects to cities.
In order to understand why tourist chooses an urban destination requires a deep understanding of the human psychology as in what really motivates tourists to travel to urban destinations. While we can clearly say that tourists are attracted to urban areas mainly due to the facilities available, there are many other reasons that we will analyze in order to understand the tourist psyche. Why people travel to urban destinations? (Hall: 2003: 58) o Fulfillment of a desire Shopping- Malls and shopping festival so Escape from the routine o Relaxation, recreation and recuperation o Entertainment/Sightseeing- night clubs, Casinos VFR o Prestige Cultural/Religious and heritage tours-Historic Monuments, Museums and theatre so Education Business travelers/ Convention so Social interaction / personal reason so Mega events- Olympics, Beauty Contests. Planning Planning for tourism has conventionally been focused on zoning, site development, accommodation and building regulations, the density of tourist development, the presentation of cultural, historical and natural tourism features, and the provision of infrastructure, including roads and sewerage. However in the recent years a lot of emphasis is being laid on the social and environmental impacts. For example carrying capacity is one of the important issues that need to be death with during the initial planning process.
Also, since tourism is an increasingly important component of the economies; it is being professed as a national goal and constant efforts are made by governments to bridge the gap that exists between the ideologies of the private and public stake holders so that they can work in harmony. At a global scale, almost 46% of the world's population live in urban areas and by the year 2030, this is set to rise to 61%. There has been a growing significance of urban areas and spaces for the consumption of tourism and leisure experiences. The important question at this juncture is whether cities can sustain and accommodate tourists and if yes, what steps need to be taken in order to make ends meet? By understanding Tourism Development in Singapore, and redefining Tourism in a wider perspective, we will try to analyze the reasons why people are attracted to such destinations and the role of the stakeholders in making it successful. Tourism in Singapore Tourism in Singapore has been quite successful and that is one of the reasons why it has been looked at as a model for urban tours in the recent years.
In the following passage we will analyze the reasons why Singapore has emerged as a tourist destination. From a modest 98000 visitors in 1965, Singapore has surely come a long way to a record of 8 million a year in 2004. These statistics definitely reveal a remarkable success to an island state measuring about 648 sq km in area. Singapore also has been classified by the World Tourism Organization as one among the top 20 tourist destinations.
Singapore Tourism Board lays out ambitious targets of tripling Tourism Receipts and creating 100, 000 additional jobs in the tourism industry by 2015, supported by a S$2 billion Tourism Development Fund. Singapore is the busiest port in the world with over 600 shipping lines sending super tankers, container ships and passenger liners Singapore's strategic location, excellent facilities, fascinating cultural contrasts and tourist attractions contribute to its success as a leading destination for both business and pleasure. Some factors that have contributed significantly towards tourism growth in Singapore are: (a) Tourists from all over the world were welcome into the republic and there were hardly any visa /foreign exchange restrictions (b) Strict regulations were enforced to ensure the safety of visitors (c) To keep the environment clean, tough pollution control measures were introduced. (d) Liberal aviation policies.
The Government of Singapore is considering the development of an Integrated Resort (IR) with world-class amenities which may include hotels, convention facilities, retail and dining, entertainment shows, themed attractions and a casino. Understanding the implications, the casino might have on the safe and clean image of Singapore there is already a proposal by the Ministry of Home Affairs to set up a casino regulator to help manage the social impact of having a casino in Singapore. The casino regulator will put in place a strict regulatory regime to ensure that the casino remains free from criminal influence and that illegal activities on the premises are kept under control. Tourism Statistics - A growth indicator The tourism industry performed well in 2004, exceeding Singapore Tourism Board's (STB) targets for both tourism receipts and visitor arrivals. Tourism generated an estimated S$9.
6 billion in tourism receipts in 2004, exceeding STB's target of S$8. 7 billion for the year and adding 3 % to the GDP. Singapore welcomed 8. 3 million visitors in 2004, a record high and a significant increase of 36 per cent over 2003 and 10 per cent over 2002. Table I: 2015 Target and a comparison with year 2004 Indicator 2004 2015 Target Tourism Receipts (S$ billion) 10 30 Visitors Arrivals (million) 8 17 Tourism Employment 150, 000 250, 000 Organizational Structure and Functional Activities: The Ministry of Trade & Industry is the national agency that oversees the tourism policy. The main functional activities include formulating and implementing tourism policies.
In tandem with the open door policy, Singapore adopted a liberal tourism policy right from the beginning. Singapore tourism Board, a statutory board set up by the government was created in 1964 to perform marketing activities. Besides marketing and planning tourism, it acts as an agent for the government for the wide range of tourism activities. Government has always played a very important role in providing tourism related infrastructure be it in the way of being a major stakeholder in Singapore airlines, building the Changi Airport or developing Sentosa as an island resort. A lower property tax in the first five years of business, tax holiday for 5-10 years, exemption from entertainment duty, accelerated depreciation and investment allowances did attract a whole lot of domestic and foreign investment in tourism related projects.
Finally the Destination Marketing Council is the private -public liaison created by STB to better integrate the marketing efforts of the public and private sectors. As part of the Government's commitment to grow the tourism sector, a S$2 billion Tourism Development Fund (TDF) has been set up to support initiatives in certain areas: -Infrastructure Development, Enhancing the capability of Singapore-based travel and tourism players as well as FDI's, Anchoring Major Events: Attracting mega events that will enable Singapore to be a premier destination for Leisure, as well as Business and Services Marketing efforts to promote Singapore as the top Destination- defining the future of Singapore Uniquely Singapore - Unique is the word that best sums up Singapore, a dynamic city rich in contrast and color where you " ll find a confluence of culture, cuisine and arts. A conduit between the East and the West for centuries, Singapore, continues to manage the subtle balance between traditions and modernization. From the past to the future, from a colorful cultural commune to a competent business center, from serene gardens to glossy skyscrapers, whole hearted Hospitality, state-of-the-art infrastructure and a totally unique experience, Singapore caters to all.
Another integral contributor to the growth of Tourism Industry in Singapore is clearly the Business Travel & MICE (Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibitions) Group which has been identified as a key area of growth for tourism. Education Services and Healthcare Services are the other two niche areas that have been identified as high-growth segments which Singapore has the existing capabilities and infrastructure to develop and market for tourism. Also, the Singapore tourism Board has segmented the leisure group into the following categories which are responsible for the concept development, marketing promotion and industry enhancement: o Food & Beverage: There is famous Singaporean greeting. Instead of the ubiquitous "How are you? Singaporeans delight themselves by asking 'Have you Eaten?' - With the Multi cuisine restaurants catering to all appetites, Singapore surely is a Mecca for food lovers. o Lifestyle & Events: Night Life, Clubs, Jazz bars, Bowling alleys, Theatres, theme parks, Safaris, Spa and many more. o Sightseeing & Cruise: Local tour operators offer a wide range of general and special interest tours to suit every taste and budget.
The Cruise Industry in Singapore, with its well-developed passenger terminals, is gaining recognition as the cruise hub for the Asia-Pacific regio no Tourism Shopping is one of the greatest pleasures in Singapore. Singapore also hosts a number of shopping festivals through out the year that attracts a huge number of tourists from all around the world. Conclusion: Although many cities strive to have a 'global-city status,' few have been as explicit as Singapore in its per suit to create an urban landmark to project its global aspirations Singapore is a perfect confluence of globalism and localism. Kudos to the various authorities and the people of Singapore that have made it possible for the tiny island country to emerge as a top tourist destination and at the same time maintain the clean and safe image.
The only fear is with the number of FDI's coming into Singapore, and increase in tourist arrivals, it s likely to follow New York... Urban Tourism Planning thus requires a lot of research and requires the government to be reactive and pragmatic. The Public sector and private sector need the vision to achieve their long term objectives by minimizing the various social, environmental and economic impacts. There are a number of cities that have been an utter failure as far as Tourism Planning is concerned. Berlin is one of the cities to learn the urban planning lessons the hard way.
Granted, New York still has its Times Square, but it's more a destination for tourists-than a place where people want to live. And it's next to impossible to single out any one residential or neighborhood business district that defines any other major urban area, whether in Tokyo, Los Angeles, London, or Moscow. Contemporary urban growth patterns have turned many cities into collections of places, which combine to create an overall urban identity. References Stephen J Page & C Michael Hall (2003).
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