SINGAPORE: A comprehensive blueprint aimed at redeveloping Sentosa and Pulau Brani into a “game-changing leisure and tourism destination” was unveiled on Friday (Sep 20), with plans for new spaces and concepts as well as rejuvenated beaches.
As part of those plans, however, the iconic 37m-tall Merlion - first built on Sentosa Island in 1995 - will no longer be part of its skyline.
The redevelopment of Sentosa and Pulau Brani is part of the Government’s larger move to remake Singapore’s Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW) and follows plans outlined by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech last month.
The Sentosa-Brani master plan is expected to be implemented in phases over the next two to three decades, but construction on the first milestone project – a 30,000 sq m multi-sensory walkway - will begin in the fourth quarter of this year, said Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) at a media briefing on Friday.
The S$90 million walkway is expected to be completed in 2022.
“The Sentosa-Brani master plan is one of our tourism developments to position Singapore as a leading destination for the next few decades,” said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and for Education Chee Hong Tat on Friday.
“Our tourism industry is doing well and still has plenty of scope for further growth and rejuvenation. It is one of our economic engines that can continue to create many good jobs for Singaporeans,” he added.
Sentosa Sensoryscape, which will be about the size of 5.5 football fields when completed, will connect Resorts World Sentosa in the north to Sentosa’s southern beaches.
Comprising a two-tiered walkway, Sensoryscape will have features that stimulate the five senses – such as textured surfaces and plants that respond to touch, a water feature with the sound of cascading water, and visually striking giant flower stalks framing the sides of the thoroughfare.
“Sentosa Sensoryscape is the first project under this master plan. It will complement the expansion of Resorts World Sentosa and subsequent infrastructure enhancements on Sentosa and Pulau Brani,” said Mr Chee.
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While there are no plans to relocate the Merlion, SDC CEO Quek Swee Kuan said that SDC is looking into the best way to commemorate it.
He also said that SDC made the decision to tear down the Merlion after careful consideration.
As guests become more “sophisticated and well connected”, they tend to look for experiences, he explained.
He also noted that the thoroughfare linking RWS with Sentosa’s beaches will make the island more accessible for all guests.
FIVE UNIQUE ZONES
As part of the larger master plan, Sentosa and Pulau Brani will be redeveloped according to five zones.
Each of the zones – vibrant cluster, island heart, waterfront, ridgeline and beachfront – will have their own character and will deliver a unique experience to visitors, said SDC.
Vibrant cluster will be the festive and attraction zone, featuring large attractions and an outdoor performance space.
Island heart will be the centre of the entire development and will have both indoor and outdoor attractions, with views of Mount Serapong.
The city-facing waterfront, located closest to the main Singapore island, will retain its port architecture to commemorate its port heritage, said SDC. There will also be a futuristic discovery park.
Nature lovers can visit ridgeline, which offers nature and heritage attractions connecting Mount Faber, Pulau Brani, Mount Serapong and Mount Imbiah to Fort Siloso.
The fifth zone – beachfront – will have water-themed attractions for families.
Night attractions are on the cards too, as SDC revealed its plan to have customised digital exhibitions and light events based on the five zones.
There will also be an enhanced transport network to ensure greater accessibility through the developments.
The SDC said that all tenants and attractions at the Merlion Plaza will be closed in phases from Oct 21 to Nov 4 this year.
RENEWING SENTOSA AND BRANI
Tourism experts welcomed the proposed plans for redeveloping Sentosa and Pulau Brani, noting that they are part of Sentosa’s constant renewal and evolution.
Managing director of international tourism consultancy MasterCounsult Christopher Khoo said that the master plan was “another step” in Sentosa’s evolution.
“The inclusion of Brani is what makes it exciting,” he said, adding that it would open up commercial and tourism opportunities on the island.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic senior lecturer in tourism Michael Chiam said that he expects tourism numbers to rise, as it “comes with the novelty” of new attractions.
While it was a pity that the Merlion is to be removed, there is a need to "refresh” Sentosa, he said.
MasterConsult's Khoo said: “(The Merlion) fulfilled the function at that time. As tourism goes on, expectations are higher (and we have to) make way for something new. The renewal process means giving way."