Over the past five decades, tourism has helped transform Singapore into a premier lifestyle destination and vibrant global city, said S Iswaran, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry at the Tourism Industry Conference in Singapore on April 7.

He highlighted attractions in the city state, such as Orchard Road which is now a premier shopping belt boasting nearly 800,000 sq.m. of retail, dining and entertainment offerings, or the world-renown Jurong Bird Park, Botanic Garden, Night Safari and recently River Safari.

With regards to events space, Singapore has moved beyond merely importing events into Singapore , to co-creating new products and anchoring a varied portfolio of business and thought leadership events. Visitors have been given leisure event offerings, including world class sporting, entertainment and lifestyle elements like the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Women’s Tennis Association Championships.

Last year, more than 15.5 million visitors called at the city-state, far from the figure of 90,000 in 1964, and tourism receipts rose to 23.5 billion SGD, two and a half times the 9 billion SGD in 1998, the first year that the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) started tracking tourism receipts.

Also at the Tourism Industry Conference 2014, STB Chief Executive Lionel Yeo confirmed that to meet the growing demand in travel of Asians, especially the middle class, Singapore tourism sector will focus on creating distinctive software that can maximise the value of existing tourism hardware and differentiate Singapore from regional competition.

In the years to come, focus will be placed on six top markets, including China, India, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, and Japan, and this year’s target will be between 16.3 million and 16.8 million visitors with tourism receipts of between 23.8 and 24.6 billion SGD.-VNA