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Tuesday, 20 December, 2016, 13 : 43 PM [IST]

‘We encourage production houses to shoot in Singapore’

In its endeavour to reinforce Singapore as a year-round destination for families, working millennials, first-time as well as repeat travellers, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) continues to invite Bollywood movies to be filmed in the country. GB Srithar, Regional Director, South Asia, Middle East and Africa International Group speaks to Prasenjit Chakraborty.
Q. How do you view India as a source market for positioning Singapore as a destination for film shoots?
A. Singapore has been a popular destination for film shoots for many decades now. Way back in 1960, there was a film called ‘Singapore’ starring Shammi Kapoor. Over the years, Singapore has featured in a few big Bollywood movies like Krrish, De Dana Dan, to name a few. Apart from Bollywood, regional movies with Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth in lead roles were also filmed in Singapore. We hope this association with Indian cinema continues in the future to portray Singapore’s tourism and lifestyle offerings for Indian travellers.

Q. Why is there a sudden spurt to portray Singapore as a film tourism destination?
A. We continue to encourage movie production houses to come and film in Singapore and render our support, where possible. Singapore has been a popular filming destination for a few decades now. We are constantly on the lookout for movie projects, where Singapore can play an integral part to the storyline and which showcase different experiences that Singapore has to offer.

While Singapore has been always been portrayed as a family-friendly destination among Indian travellers, we want to also reinforce Singapore’s offerings to other key traveller segments like the working millennials, couples as well as business travellers. Our objective is to keep Indian travellers and the travel trade updated about Singapore, and movies play a major role in shaping people’s perceptions of the places featured in them. They reach a wide audience, helping to influence their travel choices.

Q. What are the USPs of Singapore as a film tourism destination?
A. Film-makers have remarked that Singapore, as in real life, looks good on camera. The country presents very interesting and fascinating architecture, including heritage buildings, modern skylines and visually impressive streetscape. Our residential neighbourhoods present culturally diverse settings. Given Singapore’s concentration of places and experiences, film-makers could shoot very different locations suited for their movies from beaches, beautiful gardens, modern city to retail, varied dining and a plethora of arts, entertainment and attractions. The diverse locations help film-makers manage tight production schedules.

Q. How much have you invested in the recent past to promote film tourism in India?
A. We have provided good support and co-operation in terms of location permissions, facilitating or helping to fulfil production requirements and bringing in relevant authorities or parties to ensure hassle-free shoots.

Q. Are you offering any tax incentive? Any plan for special incentive for crew?
A. Currently, we do not have any tax incentive scheme for filming in Singapore.

Q. Are you offering any special visa for crew?
A. The visa application process for Indians visiting Singapore is easy and convenient. We assist production houses, where necessary, to liaise with relevant authorities for the processing of visas for their filming crews.

Q. Any single-window clearance for shooting in public places?
A. There is no single-window clearance for filming in public spaces in Singapore, as there are locations which fall under various government authorities or are privately owned. The experienced local line production companies or fixers in Singapore can help to facilitate and coordinate with the relevant authorities in Singapore to secure location permissions. STB has offered assistance to production houses to link up with such fixers.

Q. Apart from Bollywood films, are you also targeting the regional film industry?
A. Yes, we are exploring movie projects in South India to collaborate with.

Q. How do you visualise Singapore as a film tourism destination three years down the line?
A. With movies like the recent “Dear Zindagi” and upcoming “Badrinath Ki Dulhania” showing different aspects and varied faces of Singapore, we look forward to more movie shoots in the coming years. We invite film-makers to re-discover Singapore and present it creatively, positively and vibrantly to their audiences. Bollywood films have helped bring Singapore close to the hearts of Indians as a magical, friendly and welcoming destination. We hope future movies will help bring it even closer.
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