Beginning its operations in the country by opening an office in Mumbai in 1993, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) was among the first few NTOs to visualise the potential of the Indian market. After Mumbai, they extended their reach to Delhi and then owing to Singapore’s historical and cultural linkages with South India, opened offices in Chennai and Bengaluru. With this, STB expanded their international footprint in the key cities of India, thus establishing a stronger presence in the country. The year 2002 saw an increase in Indians travelling to Singapore, with the country witnessing 3.7 lakh Indian arrivals. This was followed by a further increase in 2004 with 4.7 lakh Indian arrivals. Talking about the importance of the Indian market for Singapore, Chang Chee Pey, Executive Director, South Asia, Middle East and Africa, STB, said, “Indian arrivals to Singapore started growing in early 2000 as they desired to see overseas destinations. The last decade has seen tremendous economic growth and fast-paced lifestyle trends that have contributed to India’s potential as a sought-after outbound travel market. India has consistently been among the top five performing markets for Singapore. With the tremendous economic growth in India in the last decade, coupled with evolving lifestyle changes and aspirational values, a total of 900,000 Indian tourists visited Singapore in 2012, double of what it was a decade ago. A total of 13,200,000 (13.2 million) global tourists visited Singapore in 2011, which is a 13 per cent year-on-year growth.”Challenges and Milestones
Obstacles and challenges abound in the global tourism market, and STB has faced some trying times as well. Pey said, “We were hit by the global financial crisis. Visitor spend dropped considerably and business travel was impacted, but it was interesting to note that post the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) phase, India rebounded quickly and from 2004 to 2012 the number of Indian arrivals doubled. In 2008, we witnessed 7.7 lakh Indian arrivals. It was the golden year for STB. In 2012, we saw the year close with STB 1.2 billion of tourism receipts from India alone.” The man behind it all, Lim Neo Chian, former CEO, STB, was instrumental in stretching the imagination of STB and Singapore’s travel trade. “He set us on the path to double Singapore’s tourist numbers from 2004, to triple the numbers from ten billion to 30 billion and double business receipts from 8.5 million to 17 million by 2015. In 2012, we achieved 14.5 million tourists and we hope that in two years we are able to reach our target,” Pey added.Focus Segments
Singapore offers varied experiences for everyone and therefore STB focuses on positioning the country as an all-in-one destination for tourists of all ages. Pey said, “Over the years, apart from the significant increase in Indian business travellers, we have noticed a rise in young travellers. They are travel-savvy and often visit Singapore for weekend trips, music shows and F1. These travellers are open to the idea of booking hotels online and often indulge in impulsive trips. Singapore has something for everyone—family, senior citizens and the youth as well. We are also currently seeing an increase in the VFR segment from India as Singapore has a large Indian diaspora. A lot of Indian business travellers also revisit Singapore for leisure and we have noted that they spend more on leisure as compared to other nationals.”STB Success Strategy
The Board recently launched the third phase of its ‘Singapore-The Holiday You Take Home With You’ in the Indian market. It promotes Singapore with the tagline ‘Leave curious, return inspired’ highlighting the country’s collection of unique wildlife and marine-themed attractions. These attractions include the recently launched River Safari and Marine Life Park comprising S.E.A. Aquarium, Adventure Cove Waterpark and Dolphin Island. The campaign recognises the Indian traveller’s shift in preference, from sightseeing trips to engaging holidays that offer enriching experiences. STB has collaborated with stakeholders to create resonant experiences for the Indian market. This campaign invites Indian holidaymakers to experience Singapore as a sophisticated, dynamic lifestyle destination under four itineraries: Active Lifestyle, Family Fun, Romance and Culinary.
Pey said that the new attractions will give more options to visitors within a small area, a more cost-effective deal and premium world-class services, all nearer to home. Also, STB will continue to partner with MakeMyTrip, Kuoni India, Mercury Travels, Thomas Cook, Yatra.com and Cox & Kings to reach consumers across India.
Commenting on the constant need for innovation to be in sync with the global trends, Pey said, “Our Intergrated Resorts and Marina Bay Sands are testimony to our vision of one-stop entertainment products as they have all the tourist amenities, including casinos, fine dining restaurants, theme parks and museums. We opened new avenues by getting the mandate to host the recent F1 Championship in Singapore. It received an overwhelming response and increased the tourist arrivals to a large scale.”Way Forward
The Indian outbound market has evolved and grown exponentially. “Increasingly, discerning global Indian travellers are seeking fresh travel experiences. Our target cities for 2014 are Hyderabad, Pune, Coimbatore, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Ahmedabad, wherein we plan to conduct workshops, seminars and training programmes for the travel trade. We also plan to participate in major trade shows.”