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Singapore’s immense gains

June 14,2018
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CHOI JI-YOUNG
*The author is an industrial news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Thailand is five times the size of South Korea and boasts beautiful natural scenery across the country. Last year, 35 million tourists visited Thailand. Singapore is a city-state a bit larger than Seoul, and its major attractions are man-made rather than natural sights. Last year, 17 million people — about half of the tourists to Thailand — visited Singapore.

But the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 ranked Thailand at 34th place and Singapore at 13th, mainly thanks to its advanced infrastructure and policies.

In the business environment, Singapore came in second place, well ahead of Thailand’s 45th, and in security, Singapore was sixth while Thailand was at 118th place. For human resources, Singapore ranked fifth while Thailand was at 40th.

Singapore is the first country to coin the term “MICE industry” for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. In 2016, Singapore hosted 888 international meetings, the second-highest number after Brussels’ 906.

COEX’s global MICE industry diagnosis report concluded that the Singaporean policy authority set a clear goal of Tourism 2015 and created a symbolic image from the two resort complexes of Marina Bay Sands and Resort World Sentosa, beyond a mere integration of a hotel and a convention center. It has the effect of adding two national images to Singapore. There are statistics that show that the resort complexes contribute 1.5 percent to 2 percent of Singapore’s GDP.

The competitive tourism and MICE industry of Singapore with vision, infrastructure and policy consistency bore the fruit of the U.S.-North Korea meeting. When more than 3,000 members of the press from around the world visited, Singapore managed to host the summit smoothly.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore would happy to pay for the summit, which cost about 20 million Singaporean dollars ($14.9 million). It is a large sum, but only one-seventh the cost of the F1 race annually held in Singapore. Singaporean investment company CGS-CIMB Securities estimates the 4,000 visitors related to the summit have spent 12 million Singaporean dollars.

It is hard to estimate long-term benefits. In an interview with Reuters, the Singapore Tourism Board’s marketing and communications director Olive Chong said, “As with all high-profile visits, it places Singapore on the map for international audiences and showcases Singapore as an ideal destination, especially for business and meetings.” Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post called Singapore “Asia’s Geneva.”

Now, there is before and after the Trump-Kim summit for Singapore’s tourism industry. One sows and Singapore reaps.

JoongAng Ilbo, , June 13, Page 26