Singapore offers ‘deeper level’ engagement for Chinese tourists

Tourists gather at Merlion Park, a landmark in Singapore. Source: Shutterstock/berm_teerawat

Singapore is looking to drive up the numbers of Chinese tourist arrivals by offering experiences of a “deeper level”.

With the majority population comprising ethnic Chinese, Singapore’s Tourism Board says it is looking to captivate tourists from the mainland by giving them a glance into the Singaporean lifestyle.

At a new branding campaign launched in Beijing on Tuesday, the agency’s chief executive Lionel Yeo said most of the Chinese have some level of familiarity with Singapore.

“They know the Singapore story, they know our founding prime minister. We want to invite them to know us in a deeper and more intimate way,” Yeo said, as quoted by the Straits Times.

Chinese tourists topped the list of spenders in Singapore, forking out some SGD2.8 billion last year, mostly on shopping.

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In 2016, the government recorded 2.86 million Chinese tourists to the country. The number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Singapore is second to Indonesia, but the figure was surprisingly more than visits by neighboring Malaysians.

“The millennial segment is a very big one for Chinese. Research has shown that they are seeking to explore a destination in a much deeper way. They want to go beyond the usual tourism landmarks, they want to live like a local, see where the locals eat and hang out,” Yeo said.

Singapore skyline at night

Yeo said although there was growing affluence and savviness among the Chinese, many of who were drawn to exotic places like Brazil, Singapore remain a destination that they were comfortable with.

He said, for example, the mainlanders from the southern provinces such as Guangzhou, see Singapore as a place to spend their long weekends.

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“Singapore, with its multicultural heritage in food and architecture, will be worth discovering… and we are confident that we can get repeat travelers as well,” he said.

The new campaign also saw the appointments of singers Stefanie Sun and Nathan Hartono as new tourism ambassadors in China.

Sun said the invitation to view the Singaporean lifestyle was a departure from traditional attractions such as the Universal Studio and Marina Bay Sands.

“This campaign is more about brand building, not just about tourism… It is quite a step up,” Sun said.