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Singapore needs to enhance tourist attractions: PM Lee

Singapore has to be more imaginative about drawing visitors to its shores, refreshing its attractions and giving tourists an unforgettable experience, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

SINGAPORE: The global tourism landscape is becoming more competitive, and as tourists change their tastes, attractions age and rival destinations step up their game, Singapore has to be more imaginative about drawing visitors to its shores, refreshing its attractions and giving tourists an unforgettable experience.

This was the advice offered by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday at the official opening of River Safari, Singapore's river-themed wildlife park. 

The S$160-million River Safari is home to 6,000 animals, including Singapore's own pair of giant pandas.

For Singaporeans, it is also a place where families can unwind, and where different cultures can meet.

Mr Lee said it offers things to do and see for all ages, and is an example of how Singapore is becoming "a better home" for families.

He added these characteristics also make the country an attractive destination, and is an example of how Singapore can stay ahead in the competitive tourism sector.

He said: "This year marks 50 years of tourism promotion and development in Singapore, in that time the tourism landscape has completely changed. Consumers' tastes will change, facilities and attractions will age and competitors, other destinations are stepping up their game.

“Therefore, we have to complement our hardware with good software, imaginative projects, which will create unforgettable experiences and make you want to come back for more visits."

Mr Lee also pointed out that the tourism sector remains what he calls a "high-touch" industry.

This means that technology can help overcome manpower constraints in the industry, but will never fully replace the warmth of people-to-people interaction.

He added that the government is studying how to do more to equip workers with the skills, knowledge and courtesies to do well in the sector.

Meanwhile, there have been concerns of productivity of another kind at the River Safari, as the wait for a baby panda from resident pair Kai Kai and Jia Jia continues.

Claire Chiang, chairman of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “We are hoping for good news, maybe in the next two years… nature has to take its course and through close observation, and learning from other experts, we will find ways of promoting that connectivity."

The River Safari has attracted more than 1.1 million visitors since its soft launch in April last year. 

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