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A Critique of Tourism Policy and Planning in Singapore Report


Tourism is a major economic driver in Singapore. According to the 2011 report from the Tourism Board, the country attracted 13,171,303 tourists, which was over twice the total country’s population (Singapore Tourism Board 2013).

According to economists, Singapore economy has grown at a fast rate in the past few decades due to tourism, which also has grown tremendously in the same period. Therefore, the economic growth can be linked to the growth of tourism.

The Singaporean tourism board has been in the forefront in developing plans and strategies for improving the sector with regard to the type of tourism in question in a bid to incorporate other economic sectors in the planning exercise (Carrigan 2010). Consequently, the implemented plans over the past few years have earned Singapore a rise in the population of tourists that are received annually.

In addition, the Singaporean government has been in the forefront in environmental conservation exercises, thus creating one the best environments across the world, which has enabled the county to earn a good reputation as a major tourist attraction site. The country has four official languages that enable the locals to communicate effectively with visitors.

However, English is the main language used in the shopping and transport sector, which increases convenience to visitors. The government has enhanced basic infrastructural facilities in the country, which enable tourists to access and fully enjoy the major tourist attraction sites.

Major Types of Tourism in Singapore

The major types of tourism in Singapore include environmental, business, sports, and cultural tourism. To begin with environmental tourism, as aforementioned, the Singaporean government has policies that enhance environmental conservation in the country.

There is a direct relationship between tourism and environmental conservation, as many tourists prefer visiting regions that have good environments for leisure. Singapore is a small country and the growth of its urban centres was achieved after clearing natural vegetation in large parts of the country.

In order to regain environmental advantage, the government of Singapore introduced a network of greenery in the urban centres as a way of improving urban environments (YuChen 2010). This move has enabled the country to have one of the greenest cities in the world.

The existing policies aim at enhancing environmental tourism in Singapore such as environmental friendly waste disposal mechanisms, which allow the country to improve its environmental serenity.

This move has enabled Singapore to be ranked among the most visited countries for ecotourism together with Costa Rica, Thailand, and Nepal, as they are endowed with natural environments. The ability to conserve the environment led to the introduction of zoos in urban greenery centres that have been in the forefront in attracting both local and foreign tourists (Tse 2001).

Business tourism is also a major tourist sector in Singapore. The country’s small landmass has been developed into cities, which make the country to be referred as “Asian city state” as the entire country is an urban centre. The country’s population is located in the cities due to lack of space for rural settlements.

The government has introduced economic policies that have allowed the country to attract business tourists ever since the 1985 economic recession. The main goal of the Singaporean government is to make the country a major business hub in southern Asia.

The country has major business infrastructures such as shopping malls, which attract millions of tourists from the region. For instance, the Orchard Road district is home for the many multi-storey shopping malls that have many hotels and serves as the main tourist centre in the country.

According to Singapore Tourism Board (2013, par. 6), Vivo-City is ‘the largest shopping centre in the country and it has served millions of tourists ever since it was opened in 2006’. Economists termed its opening as a great milestone towards the economic growth and development in Singapore.

Singapore Tourism Board (2013, par. 7) notes that in order to enhance business tourism in the country, ‘the tourism board and other partners organise annual Great Singapore Sale that comprises great discounts and promotions in participating malls across the country’.

Other policies that enhance business tourism include tax holidays and extended trade hours in the shopping malls in order to attract and accommodate foreign tourists.

Sport tourism is also a major form of tourism in Singapore. The country is an island, hence a suitable location for marine sporting. In 2008, the country hosted the Singapore Grand Prix, which is a Formula 1 World Championship because it has modernised racing tracts at Marine Bay.

In addition, the race is on record to have been the first take place at night in the history of Formula 1 racing. The government, together with the Singapore Tourist Board, were credited for the success of the race due to the diligence dedicated towards the success of the event.

In 2010, the country hosted the inaugural Youth Olympic Games that attracted over 180,000 tourists from across the world.

Lastly, Singapore also has cultural tourism events that have formed a major tourism sector in the economy. Cultural tourism involves a variety of events that are promoted all year round by the Singapore Tourism Board. Singapore is one of the economies made up of mixed cultures with foreign acculturations dominating the locals.

Some of the major cultural tourism events include Chingay Parade, Singapore Arts Festival, and Singapore Garden Festival, which attract millions of tourists into the country. Other annual cultural events include Singapore Sun Festival and Christmas Light Up and Jewel Festival.

In addition, a majority in the population view cuisine of Singapore as an exhibit of country’s cultural diversity, whereby different hawker centres sell food of different cultures such as Chinese food or traditional Tamil food (Ardahaey 2011).

Some stalls have Malay food, Indian ingredients, and others incorporate dishes from Asia and Western cultures. Much of the food is made available at the hawkers’ stores rather than in restaurants in order to boost job creation in the economy and avail affordable food for everyone in order to encourage large consumer base at the hawker stores.

The tourism boards realised that food serves as a major tourist attraction ingredient, and thus pushed the government to introduce the Singapore Food festival, which takes place annually in July. In addition to cultural tourism, a majority of Singaporean restaurants and pubs have Indian and Chinese dancers who attract customers into the businesses.

Policy Planning and Analysis of Tourism in Singapore

In order to achieve the desired goals and objectives in the tourism sector, the Singaporean government in collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board have policies and plans in place geared towards enhancing the tourism sector in the country.

The government’s active role is to plan for the future of the tourism sector, ensure the development of modern infrastructures, and encourage entrepreneurial activities in the economy.

The Singaporean government takes the tourism industry with the seriousness that it deserves, as it is a major driver of economic development in the country. The government has plans for the future of the industry whereby it focuses on introducing tourist attraction sites and events in the future to increase the population of tourists that the country receives yearly.

With regard to planning for the future of the tourism industry, the government has established ecotourism sites where visitors can enjoy the environmental friendly garden sites that have zoos, which enable tourists to enjoy wildlife viewing at close range.

In addition, the government has plans to modernise the infrastructures, which bring convenience of tourism in the economy. The government has played a major role in enhancing the tourism industry by ensuring modern transport infrastructures in road, airports, and rail networks sectors.

The Singaporean cities and suburbs are well interconnected with modernised road and rail networks that enable tourists to travel conveniently across the country.

Sporting facilities have also been modernised to reach the international standardised levels as exhibited by facilities such as the Singapore Grand Prix racing course and stadia used for hosting the 2008 World Youth Olympic Games.

Furthermore, the Singaporean government has been in the forefront in trying to encourage entrepreneurship in the tourism sector. Entrepreneurship is a key factor of economic growth and development, hence an essential organ in the tourism sector.

The country has business policies that encourage entrepreneurship in the economy and this move has largely boosted growth in the tourism sector. The country has both local and foreign entrepreneurs who have invested heavily in the hospitality industry whereby many hotels and hospitality joints aimed at serving tourists in the country (Reisinger 2009).

In addition, international business organisations have invested in the Singaporean economy in the transport sector such as the airline industry, hotel, and chain store businesses (Hall & Page 2012). The ability of the Singaporean government to encourage entrepreneurship has played a major role in enhancing the growth and development of the tourism industry.

On planning and analysis of tourism in Singapore, it is evident that the sector is flexible in terms of being open to changes. The tourism industry is a delicate sector where personal interests and feelings play a major role in determining success in the industry.

Hence, the Singaporean government and tourism board have to implement flexible policies and shun the implementation of rigid policies. Tourists like places where the authorities recognise and respect them as such gesture breeds a sense of pride. Hence, the Singaporean government has come up with policies that encourage tourists to feel secure and highly appreciated whenever they visit the country.

Some of the policies include the establishment of international standardised accommodation facilities, which are well secured and vulnerable to changes in the international standards for improvement purposes (Balaguer & Cantavell-Jorda 2002).

In addition, the government, in partnership with Singapore Tourist Board and other stakeholders, has a strategic plan dubbed ‘Uniquely Singapore’, which is aimed at giving tourists unique and different experiences whenever they visit the country.

This policy is in line with flexibility of the industry policies with frequent rebranding exercises of major attraction sites and events in the country in a bid to make the country unique for every visit (Hitchcock et al. 2009). Looking into this strategy, it is expensive to do rebranding frequently in a bid to please tourists, but in some areas, rebranding can be done effectively.

Areas where rebranding can be done include the shopping mall areas where new merchandises are introduced frequently. In addition, museums, hotels, and other accommodation facilities can be advised to do rebranding annually in order to achieve this goal.

According to the Singapore Tourism Board (2013, par. 11), the board is playing a major role of ‘educating the locals on the unique features of the country in a bid to make them ambassadors to the tourists and the idea is a brilliant move as it will enable them to teach tourists about the country when in transit’. Critiques argue that the idea will make Singapore one of the countries with the most hospitable locals in the world such as Thailand.

The Singaporean government has been in the forefront in trying to ‘bring the world to the Singapore’ and in the past few years, the country seems to have achieved this dream. As aforementioned, the country is in the ranks of the countries where population of tourists exceed that of the locals implying that it has become a ‘must see’ location.

The New York Times has ranked Singapore among the best tourist attraction economies in the world due to its ability to accommodate various forms of tourism and the efforts by the government to enhance tourism in the country (YuChen 2010).

In addition, the government has partnered with other tourists’ attractive economies such as China, and India among others in the Asian region in order to create collective attractiveness that would enable collective economic growth of the region.

Singapore’s advantages

The Singaporean government has put measures in place that will see the country become a major innovation hub in the world. Major progresses have been made in ICT development, which is a key factor of technological development. The country’s industries use modern facilities that enable quality and efficient production.

Moreover, the country has modernised learning institutions, which together with modernised industries play a major role in attracting tourists and increasing the country’s competitiveness in the global economic arena. In addition, modernised infrastructures play a major role in enhancing the country’s attractiveness to people across the world.

The country has a strategic location that makes it attractive to tourists all year round due to good climate. Singapore’s small size makes it attractive as it is one of the few city nations in the world, and thus it serves as a business hub in the South Asian region.

Political stability is also a major determinant of the success of the tourism industry in the economy, as tourists prefer visiting regions with security assurance and guaranteed peace courtesy of political stability (Hitchcock et al. 2010).

Singapore’s disadvantages

Despite the many advantages that Singapore enjoys, few disadvantages accompany the country’s effort to become a leading tourist attraction site. The country experiences leakages as its trade secrets are known to the world for tourists are made to know how business is carried out in the country.

In addition, Singapore faces a high risk of increased crime due to diverse ethnicity and cultural heritages, which make a country vulnerable to crime. Hence, the government has to come up with tough security measures that enhance efficiency of security checks carried out against tourists while retaining their human dignity.

Another problem that the country faces is the risk of reconstructed ethnicity whereby locals may turn against tourists by claiming that foreigners deny them particular opportunities in the economy (Durbarry 2004).


Singapore is one of the most notable tourist attraction destinations across the world. The ability to become a perfect tourist destination hinges to its capacity to adapt to external demands whereby the Singaporean government has invested in modernising infrastructures to fit the internationally set standards.

In addition, the tourism sector demands large-scale human resources depending on demand and Singapore has proved to have enough human resource to cater for huge demands in the country’s tourism sector.

In addition, the success of the tourism sector in Singapore hinges on from the government’s effort to support and encourage entrepreneurial activities in the country as many investors have invested in the industry, hence attracting large tourist populations.

The Singaporean government’s plans and strategies coupled with the mandate of the tourist board will play a major role in enhancing steady growth of tourism in the country. Singapore enjoys several advantages, which are critical to the growth of tourism in the country.

They include ICT development among others; however, such merits come with demerits like insecurity as aforementioned. The threat of other countries copying Singapore’s ingenuity is also real. However, the plans and strategies noted in this paper are viable for improving the tourism sector in the Singaporean economy.

Reference List

Ardahaey, F 2011, ‘Economic Impacts of Tourism Industry’, International Journal of Business and Management, vol. 6 no. 8, pp. 123-145.

Balaguer, J & Cantavell-Jorda, M 2002, ‘Tourism as a Long-run Growth Factor: The Spanish Case’, Applied Economics, vo.34 no. 7, pp.877-884.

Carrigan, A 2010, Postcolonial Tourism: Literature, Culture, and Environment, Taylor & Francis, London.

Durbarry, R 2004, ‘Tourism and Economic Growth: The Case of Mauritius’, Tourism Economics, vol.10 no.3, pp. 389-401.

Hall, C & Page, S 2012, Tourism in South and Southeast Asia, Routledge, London.

Hitchcock, M, King, V & Parnwell, M 2009, Tourism in Southeast Asia: Challenges and New Directions, NIAS Press, Copenhagen.

Hitchcock, M, King, V & Parnwell, M 2010, Heritage tourism in Southeast Asia, University of Hawaii Press, Tokyo.

Reisinger, Y 2009, International Tourism: Cultures and Behaviour, Elsevier, London.

Singapore Tourism Board: Get up and close with wonder 2013, <>

Tse, R 2001, ‘Estimating the impact of economic factors on tourism: evidence from Hong Kong’, Tourism Economics, vol.7 no.3, pp.277–293.

YuChen, I 2010, ‘The Environmental Impact of Singapore Tourism Development Analysis and Response’, The International Hospitality and Tourism Student Journal, vol. 2 no. 3, pp. 56-89.

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