Singapore is putting its cuisine and culture at the heart of a new global Passion Made Possible promotional campaign which it hopes will further boost UK visitor numbers.
On Tuesday Singapore announced it will be the first Asian city to host the World 50 Best Restaurants awards and events programme in 2019, the Oscars of the culinary world, followed by the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2021 as part of three-year deal with William Reed Business Media.
It also launched The Singapore Supper Club which will take place over three nights this week in London featuring Michelin-starred chefs and mixologists from the World’s 50 Best Bars at three London venues; the Angler, Avenue and Bluebird.
Melissa Ow, acting chief executive of Singapore Tourism Board, said the destination is keen to build on growing global awareness, boosted recently by hit Hollywood blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians, which stars British actress Gemma Chan.
“On the back of food and culture becoming an increasingly powerful trend in travel and tourism it’s important for us to work with partners who are like minded and passionate about finding out what food and culture is all about and the pursuit of excellence.
“The culture of any city goes beyond the sights and sounds to the flavours and tastes and the cuisine can reflect the aspiration of the people. Increasingly it’s all about imagination. To plate something that’s not just beautiful but tasteful and flavoursome takes extraordinary imagination and creativity.”
Ow said UK arrivals to Singapore in 2017 stood at 500,000, year-on-year growth of 6% on 2016 and revenue from UK visits was Sing$ 729 million. In the first eight months of 2018 she said arrivals were tracking at 12% up year on year. Overall, Singapore targeted 3% to 4% arrivals growth this year but is expected to beat expectation as it is currently on about 7% to 8%.
The UK is 12th on the list of international source countries and the highest in terms of long-haul visitors, Ow said. The average length of stay is on par with the global average of about 3.6 days as Brits use Singapore as a base to explore South East Asia.
“For 2019 there is still a lot of uncertainty in the market with the China and US trade challenges and at the same time we are watching what Brexit means for consumer confidence in Britain, meanwhile the rest of the world is humming along,” Ow said.
One area Singapore is targeting for growth is the over-50s market and cruise with its new expanded cruise terminal capable of handling more vessels and the tourism board is working closely with Clia, the global cruise trade training and promotional organisation.
The destination will also mark the bicentennial of its founding next year, an anniversary which Ow expects will rekindle the links with the UK as Britain faces the future post-Brexit.
“We do look back on the last 200 years and think about the achievements that have been made since the founding of Singapore, but more importantly the series of world events that shaped who we are as a people and as a country.
“We are always very thankful for the experiences that make up our history and the society that we are today. Singapore is still a very young nation and extremely geared towards wanting to achieve better and provide for future generations.”
Crazy Rich Asians has grossed over $218 million worldwide and as the first English language film with an entirely Asia cast, the romantic comedy is being seen as a watershed moment for Asian culture on the world stage.
Ow said: “Some people might feel different cities and cultures have different mindsets and ascribe to different thinking, and that’s true to an extent, but there is a universality of desires that people have.
“One common value is about love and celebration and that’s pretty much universal and it’s to be found in every culture and society. This sense of wanting to belong and relationships, that’s something many people can identify with.”
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