Tourism is understood as the activities that individuals carry out during their travelling and stay in spaces different from their usual environment for a period shorter than a year for leisure, business or other purposes (WTO, 1994).
As highlighted by Bland (2010), tourism can prove to be very advantageous for the country’s economy as tourists will be spending their money in the destination, providing that destination country with a source of revenue. The revenue, hence, can be used to serve multiple purposes, providing the public and the government of the country with positive opportunities. Not only do the country and the people living in the host country reap economic benefits out of the development of the tourism industry, but at the same time there will be numerous positive effects of other aspects of life, like the people’s social well-being.
Joseph Schumpeter noted in the 1930s that by providing a new good to the consuming public could help to spur economic growth (Walker and Jackson, 1998). On this basis, many countries in the world now are promoting their tourism industry, in order to attract tourists that would be providing a ‘new good’ for public consumption and make a’ proper economic contribution to the society’ (The United Kingdom Parliament, 2004). This gives them a strategic advantage and a higher hand in related matters too. Hence, the country becomes more prominent and strong, along with being richer (Bland, 2010).
In the entire world, countries are competing with each other to get an increased amount of the total market share of the world’s tourists. With countries like France, having Paris with their tourism spot, competing for the market share with all the other smaller countries, it makes the competition even more rigorous (eTurbo News, 2010).
Concentrating mainly on the Asian region, the foremost example can be Malaysia, which has been marketing itself as a tourism spot since some time now. And it has been quite successful in its endeavors too. Likewise, there are other countries in the Asian region where influx of tourists are high, for example, Hong Kong, India and Thailand. These countries prove to be a tough competitor for every other country trying to boost its tourism industry.
The objective of this report is to mainly focus on the Singapore strategic planning to boost the tourism in different areas in line with the new development of Integrated Resorts (IR) – Casino Gaming Tourism, MICE Tourism, Entertainment and New Leisure Tourism.
More than two decades ago Richard Butler (1980) presented his tourist area lifecycle (TALC) (Figure 1), which has become the ‘theoretical benchmark’ (Johnston, 2001) illustrating the evolutionary nature of tourist area. Despite receiving much criticism, the TALC has proven its worth as a ‘hypothetical development path’ (Priestley & Mundet, 1998) highlighting the forces dictating the growth, consolidation, decline and, occasion all, rejuvenation of destinations (Johnston, 2001; Butler 2004).
The single most important contribution the TALC has made to the field of tourism studies is its demonstration of destinations’ dynamic character. The model portrays how a destination matures, eventually reaching a stage where it starts losing its appeal. During this phase the growth rate of arrivals stagnates and, without a major intervention by policy makers and businesses, arrivals and/or earnings are likely decline.
The Singapore government has been struggling to get a larger market share of the tourists, competing with the other Asian countries like China, India and Malaysia. And with the reinvention of the famous cities of the world, like New York, Paris, London, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Thailand, it has become even more difficult to attract tourists. But it is a prime time to develop an Asian country’s tourism industry. The reason to this fact is that there is a large captive population in the Asian region. And most importantly, there is high economic developmental activity occurring in the Asian district, with an ever increasing Income level in the economies of different Asian countries and growing middle-class.
Hence, many countries have rejuvenated their strategic plans for developing the tourism sector. This revitalization requires a great amount of investment, but countries are ready to make it. In this list of countries, the vanguard is Singapore. Singapore has been dynamically attempting to attract tourists in order to promote the tourism industry by making huge investments in the tourism sector and is ambitious about attracting the highest number of tourists in the region.
The line of action to be taken by the Singapore government and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) had to be multi-pronged. The main idea put forward was the idea of Casino Gaming Tourism through Integrated Resorts (IR). The resorts were destined to have a collection of high quality leisure and entertainment attractions that could compete with the world’s entertainment venues. The resorts were planned to open up at Marina Bay and Sentosa in Singapore – namely the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World, both of which are now operational. The vast variety of leisure facilities and entertainment services has been substantial enough to catch the tourists’ attention throughout the world (Lee, 2000).
2.1INTEGRATED RESORTS (IRs)
In 2006, the Singapore government awarded two gaming licenses to the two new Integrated Resorts initiative namely MBS (Marina Bay Sands owned by Las Vegas Sands) and RWS (Resorts World Sentosa owned by Genting Singapore). The total investment cost of these Integrate Resorts is now estimated to be around S$14.4 billion, making it one of the most costly in relation to the other facilities of this kind in the world. The investment cost has been increased substantially due to the future prospects. Initially the cost was estimated to be around S$10 billion (Lee, 2000).
2.1.1Resorts World Sentosa
Resorts World Sentosa (Appendix 1 & 2) is located at Sentosa Island, is being constructed by Genting Singapore on a 49 hectare site at an estimated cost of S$6.6 billion. The development will feature Asia’s first Universal Studio theme park, the world’s largest oceanarium, a water park, a maritime museum and a “wellness” sanctuary, Espa with six hotels, retail space and MICE facilities.
2.1.2Marina Bay Sands
Las Vegas Sands is completing their integrated casino resort on a 21 hectare site in Marina Bay – Marina Bay Sands (Appendix 3 & 4). At an estimated cost of S$7.8 billion, the resort will feature a 2,600-room hotel, retail space and MICE facilities.
2.2CASINO GAMING TOURISM
It is increasingly evident that new-sophisticated consumers seek authentic and unique experiences (Buhalis, 2000). They are also willing to pay a premium, but only if the product is significantly better than that of competitors.
The introduction of casino developments into host area as a tourism initiative serving as a ‘unique experience’ to attract external tourists into the locality.
Casinos can also reflect the society surrounding them: elegant upper-class meeting places in parts of Europe; the great leveling experience of Las Vegas; or the stage for the machismo performance of masculinity, pride, loss and chance found in Latin America (Gabb, 1998). On this basis, establishing a strong image identify could help to strategize the tourism sector as well as the host area as a whole to attract more tourist to visit the area.
With casinos forming a part of tourism product offerings, being bundles or packages together in bringing an enhanced entertainment and ‘unique experience’ for the tourist. However it has been shown that the casino tourist can display different sociodemographic profile than the non-casino tourist in terms of age, income, education levels and marital status (Morrison Braunlich, Liping & O’Leary, 1996). This therefore indicates the possibility of a tourism segmentation strategy for casino and non-casino tourists.
Eadington (n.d) also commented that the economic spin offs derived from legalized gambling may be expected to contribute to the economic regeneration of the host area in the form of increased Gross Value Added, enhanced tourism, tax revenue generation, job creation and investment stimulation.
It has been observed that there has been a substantial increase in the number of tourists pouring in Singapore, due to its establishment of the Integrated Resorts. Recent statistics show that Indonesia, China, Australia, UK, and Malaysia have been the top sources of tourists coming to Singapore. It has been forecasted that in 11.5 to 12.5 million visitors would enter Singapore in 2010 and S$12.6 – S$13.3 billion worth tourism receipts would be earned. But the desired target of the Singapore Tourism Board, for the two casinos is to attract 17 million visitors by the end of 2015. The average spending of a tourist in Singapore is now more than S$1400, which can contribute significantly to the country’s GDP (Veneracion, 2010).
The Integrated Resorts have also proved to be fruitful for the local public of Singapore too. More than 20,000 jobs have been created as the Integrated Resorts came into being. Moreover, the local related industries like hotels, airlines, retail and property have been able to increase profits due to the introduction of Integrated Resorts (Fischer, 2009).
2.2.1CASINOS AND THE DESTINATION LIFE CYCLE
A tourism destination as suggested by Butler (1980) will go through the stages of involvement, development, consolidation, and stagnation (Figure 1). The declining stage can be due to a combination of influencing factors such as competition from a similar destination or neighbouring destination, safety and security concerns or maintaining an unattractive undifferentiated tourism product. However, even as destination stagnation approaches, it has been suggested that the tourism destination life cycle can be extended or revitalized by planning and implementing strategic developments which can include newer attractions (Beneditto & Bojanic, 1993, cited in Priestly & Mundet, 1998), such theme parks, heritage site or convention and exhibition facilities.
Singapore’s position along its tourism destination life cycle would warrant further research, although the introduction casino through Integrated Resorts could be seen as a form of ‘boosterism’ to the tourism industry and also as a catalyst in tourism development.
Figure 1. Tourist Destination Life Cycle
Source: TALC, Butler (1980)
While the presence of casinos brings well-pronounced and apparent economic benefits, there is also a need to remain aware of the social and environmental impacts of such developments. Communities are often concerned about the negative impacts casino developments could bring to the host area (Evangelical Alliance, 2006). Failing to fully acknowledge the social benefits casino developments could bring to the host area will undermine the positive effects casino developments could bring to the community.
Casinos are alleged to exacerbate all kind of social problems, including crime, prostitution, compulsive gambling behavior, family strife, and alcoholism (Rephann, 1997). It is important to note that social scientists have not been able to isolate the amount of increased social costs caused by gambling (GAO,2000a). This is due to the fact that social impacts of gambling are ‘qualitative, elusive and very difficult to measure’ (GAO, 2000b).
To quantify the social cost casino developments has brought to the host area, the cost of estimated number of gambling addicts in a casino’s catchment area should be compared to the revenues a new casino or gambling revenue might generate. If a casino depends primarily on the local population for businesses, the gambling addiction costs will be borne by the local community (Thomas, 2005).
Legalized gambling, they pointed out, also opens up threats of broken families due to heavy losses. When looking at casino impacts, Long (1996) found that all jurisdictions report unanticipated problems, new pressures, the need for constant monitoring and similar concern. McCartney (2004) also mentioned that to build towards long-term success it will be important to monitor a community’s ability to handle issues, to focus on the health and integrity of the gaming industry and the value of the experience to the tourists’.
According to the Gaming Review Report, also known as the Budd Report, tightening the legislation will help to keep crime out of gambling, protect the vulnerable and children through strict responsible gambling programmes and education of the public. Moreover tighter casino regulations will also help to protect punters and ensure fairer gambling activities (Budd, 2001).
Considering the prospective adverse effects of gambling, measures were devised to minimize the adverse effects of this casino such as high entrance fees for Singaporeans and prohibition on giving loans from casinos to the locals. People in financial distress would not be allowed to gamble. In addition to these restrictions and precautions, the minimum age set by the government is 21 instead of 18 to avoid the heavy economic and financial crunches in the society due to the rashness of youngster, which is at its peak when they are under 18 (Study of HK People’s Participation in Gambling Activities 2002, Hong Kong Polytechnic University). Moreover, local public were to be made aware and educated of the harms and risks involved in gambling. Therefore the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) was set up in HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore” o “Singapore” Singapore on 31 August 2005 to address HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_gambling” o “Compulsive gambling” problem gambling, following the HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_Government” o “Singapore Government” government’s decision to legalise HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casino” o “Casino” casino gambling at HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Bay,_Singapore” o “Marina Bay, Singapore” Marina Bay and HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentosa” o “Sentosa” Sentosa (Channel NewsAsia. 6 January 2006).
2.3ENTERTAINMENT AND NEW LEISURE TOURISM
People are increasingly living in ’money rich, time poor’ societies in many developed countries; therefore their leisure time is becoming more and more precious. Many tourists are actively engaging in the kinds of activity that they could quite feasibly do at home (e.g. shopping for global brands, eating international fast food, watching sport on satellite TV) (Tourism Business Frontiers, 2006).
Tyrell and Mai (2001) similarly note that the concept of a ‘leisure society’ is something of a misnomer at a time when leisure time is more limited than ever before! However, people seem to be taking more and more holidays to compensate, averaging two breaks per year. New leisure tourists are often speaking to visit landscapes that correspond to Barber’s (1995) concept of ‘McWorld’, where a number of familiar global brands and facilities are clustered or integrated under one roof – The Integrated Resorts.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s vision of the Integrated Resorts will not only includes a casino, but hotels, shopping centers, restaurants, theatres, museums and MICE facilities. At the moment, The Resorts World Sentosa is a host to Universal Studio theme park, Oceanarium Marine Life Park, Equarius Water Park, Maritime museum and Espa wellness Sanctuary. It has a total number of 6 hotels comprising of the rooms around 1800. While the attractions at Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resorts include Art & Science museum, two theatres, High end retail and an iconic SkyPark. It has 3 hotels with the intended capacity around 2600.
Those non-gaming facilities such as MICE facilities, large entertainment shows, events and more premium brand shops, reflective on Las Vegas’ success as not being primarily a gaming destination, are allotted more for the newer developments, and it is with these that can help to further widen and differentiate the Singapore tourism market providing the new leisure tourists more reasons to visit Singapore as their choice destination.
Davidson (1998) highlighted that the MICE tourism has the additional benefit of also including an element of leisure tourism, in the form of delegates extending their stay after the event for leisure purposes, in social programmes, and in persons accompanying delegates, blurring the distinction between business and leisure tourism and contributing to the benefit of MICE tourism to destinations.
As mentioned by GAO (2000a), there is a need to recognize that even though casino developments could be an effective strategy in bringing in tourists in the area, tourism as an industry in itself is of a seasonal nature. Therefore, the casino development should not be the sole tourism industry in the area. On this basis, the Singapore Government has integrated MICE facilities as one of the major catalyst in attracting large amount of MICE visitors to the Integrated Resorts not only attend MICE related functions but to also double up as a ‘new leisure tourist’ during their stay in the Integrated Resorts who could possibility contribute to the gaming tourism of Singapore.
The collection of information is largely gathered by Secondary data sources such as Internet as a source. A significant amount of information was gathered regarding the entire tourism industry of Singapore. This helped to form an understanding of the situation of the tourism industry of Singapore, as a whole. It also helped in understanding the background of the condition of Singapore’s tourism industry in the past.
Subsequently, literature available on the Integrated Resorts specifically, was gathered. The information in the literature helped to explain the overview of what exactly is the Integrated Resort and what does it comprise of. Moreover, the information obtained was also able to give estimates of the costs involved in the project (Rodney 2010).
Lack of funding and time to carry out extensive research.
This project has been limited by a number of professional and academic papers that were not freely available for reference.
4ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION
Interpreting from all the information present in the available literature, it can be comprehended that the government of Singapore has been quite determined to make Singapore the leading tourist attracter of the world. In its way to achieve the ambitious aim, a novel idea had to be introduced which was to be ground breaking and awe inspiring enough to be able to pull every tourist of the world towards itself.
As mentioned by Braunlich (1996), the high cost to enter the casino industry can be seen by casino regulators as a mean of establishing long-term commitments and thereby ensuring a more stable casino industry. The two winners of Singapore’s casino concession have committed large capital investments and resources to the development of Singapore’s gaming and tourism industry.
Amongst the many investments and strategic plans for enhancing the profitability and attraction of the tourism industry of Singapore, the idea which has been discussed the most is the “Integrated Resorts”. Its facilities and huge investment has already caught everyone’s eyes in the world. Thus, it seems to be on its track of achieving what it was mainly intended for. The entertainment, leisure and MICE facilities are of a world-class standard.
But amongst the lavish facilities and splendid attractions, the centre of discussion has been the casinos. Although not very uncommon in the entire world, the establishment of casinos in Singapore has resulted in the upheaval of contradictory expressions between the host community. A great number of the host community opposed the mere idea of casinos as being a vice in a society. Its relationship with the evils of society such as rise in theft, poverty and other social iniquities cannot be denied.
Even if there are no palpable negative effects yet detected in the society of Singapore, it does not give the assurance that there will not by any in the future. The fact remains that there is enmity against the use of casinos in the Integrated Resorts on the side of the general public, which is deep-rooted. The blatancy of the opposition has sunk only due to the stunning economical benefits that the resorts are proposed to provide in the future. Thus, the matter should be treated with utmost seriousness at all times by the government to make sure that there are not any large-scale negativities arising in the society that could be linked with the gambling in the region.
As far as the promotion of tourism is concerned, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has been very effective in attracting the tourists as we can see a large growth in the tourism sector of the country. The host community also seems to be having a pleasant time with the new signatures of their tourism industry: The Integrated Resorts (Singapore Tourism Board, 2010).
The assortment of facilities and activities in the Integrated Resorts are very conducive to its success. The Singapore Tourism Board have planned the new strategies of tourism well, covering all its aspects from airline to the core activities to the hotels. The two resorts are also strategically located in the country, which gives them a great benefit of being accessible to more visitors. Moreover, the idea of putting such activities in each resort, which would appeal to their intended market, is a very workable one.
The induction of the Integrated Resorts in Singapore has proven to be serving dual benefits. Not only has it been able to attract substantial number of tourists, it has also been able to provide the host community with a hearty experience. Except for the casinos, the host community is allowed to use the facilities as much as the foreign tourists. In fact, forty six percent of the visitors to the two Integrated Resorts are the host community.
In addition, the economic benefits gained from these Integrated Resorts can not be forgotten. The revenue coming into Singapore will on one hand make the host community wealthier and on the other hand, the government and Singapore as a whole, much stronger. Consequently, this revenue will eventually be used in the economic development raising the standards of living for the community living in Singapore and providing them with additional facilities (Singapore Statistic, 2009).
Hence, the economic future of Singapore seems to be very bright as there are still further plans in the pipeline that will increase the number of tourists coming to Singapore.
Thus, it can be concluded that the development of the tourism and attraction sector of Singapore has posed many challenges for Singapore. Although the idea of Integrated Resorts seems to have been proving itself as a great till now, its future is still uncertain. The economy of Singapore will definitely thrive upon introduction of new forms of MICE, gaming, entertainment and leisure facilities. But the legalisation of gambling in the Singapore society will have its profound effects on every level of the lives of the community of Singapore: be it cultural, social or economic.
Will the restrictive policies of the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong be effective enough to restrain the adverse effects of gambling? Only time can tell that. But on a more positive side for Singapore, it would definitely be eating up the market share of tourists from around the world in the next coming years.