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'Spirit of Singapore' boat ride coming to Sentosa

Intense competition for visitors is prompting Sentosa to embark on a makeover, with new attractions in the works, such as a Madame Tussauds musuem and a Singapore-themed boat ride. Existing attractions are also getting spruced up. 

SINGAPORE: With new attractions drawing away the crowd in recent years, Sentosa is revamping itself, refreshing older attractions and introducing new ones to give the island a new face.

Madame Tussauds Singapore will open at Sentosa's Imbiah lookout by end-October this year. It will include a boat ride known as 'The Spirit of Singapore', featuring iconic local landmarks. The ride will connect the new wax museum to the existing 'Images of Singapore' attraction in the same building.

'Images of Singapore' is also getting a new look. "I think it is very important not only to have new attractions brought to the region, but also to keep focus on existing attractions,” said Mr Graham McGrath. Development Manager for Merlin Entertainments Singapore. "'Images of Singapore Live' is a reinvention, a recreation of an old attraction. What we're aiming to do, working in collaboration with Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC), is to improve visitor numbers not only to Sentosa, but to Singapore as a whole."

Annual footfall on the island has more than tripled since the debut of Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) - from an estimated average of 6 million in the years before its opening in early 2010, to some 20.5 million last year.

However, industry watchers say some of the older attractions have been lagging behind. Mr Kevin Cheng, Chairman of the Association of Singapore Attractions, says that in the two years following the opening of RWS, older attractions such as the Luge and Tiger Sky Tower saw visitor arrivals jump by up to 30 per cent. However, following that spike, some have seen arrivals slow down to pre-RWS levels.

Competition for visitor interest is intense, and SDC is targeting not just tourists but also the local crowd. About half of Sentosa's more than 20 million visitors last year were locals. 

RWS just debuted the Trick Eye Museum last month, and the attraction has already seen 36,000 visitors. Said the museum's Marketing Manager Mandy Foo: "We will update and refresh our artworks about every six months, to keep things fresh. This will definitely keep things dynamic, and bring visitors back for more."

SDC says it has recently launched a rebranding campaign, aiming to breathe new life into activities across the island. “We're continuously looking at refreshing our attractions, to make them more relevant in view of the very competitive landscape," said Susan Ang, SDC's Divisional Director for Island Investment and Branding. 

For example, musical extravaganza 'Wings of Time' recently replaced the 'Songs of the Sea' show. "That's really our effort to refresh the attractions we have on the island, not just to bring in completely new attractions," she said. 

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