If there were one word to best describe the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore, it might be this: evolution. In the four years since the country debuted its first integrated resort casinos — Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa — it has also welcomed a world-class park (the 250-acre Gardens by the Bay); a new international cruise terminal (Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore); and new tourism attractions (Marine Life Park, the River Safari, and the Gillman Barracks art gallery space). And there’s far more on the horizon.
“Singapore continues to rejuvenate its landscape of tourism offerings so travelers may enjoy and experience it in a new light during each visit,” says Carol Hong, area director of business development, brand, and communications in the Americas for the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
What attracts first-time incentive groups to Singapore and keeps them coming back, however, has as much to do with the country’s continual transformation, as well as its distinct blend of cultures. “Singapore is a unique incentive destination in that it offers an Asian experience, while still providing Western-style amenities,” explains Hong. “Even as Singapore has transformed into a cosmopolitan city-state, it retains its Asian charms, reflected in its strong multicultural society.” She adds, “It also provides a concentration of offerings that are accessible and user-friendly, allowing incentive groups to have a personalized experience and customize activities based on their unique needs.”
Last year, the STB launched the Singapore MICE Advantage Programme, making it even easier for U.S.-based organizations to meet in Singapore, with added incentives, promotions, and discounts available to groups. Hong adds, “Especially for groups based in the U.S., an incentive travel trip to Singapore can also be facilitated with ease since English is a national language.”
Hong notes that there are unique attractions and activities for nearly every type of incentive participant. “Culture and history buffs can experience four distinct cultures all in one city, exploring Chinatown, Little India, Katong, and Kampong Glam, giving them an insight to the various facets of Singapore’s unique culture and history. Nature lovers can hike or explore one of Singapore’s many green spaces by day; there are more than 50 parks and four nature reserves covering approximately half of Singapore’s land mass.” Science-minded travelers, she notes, can even manipulate pewter metal at the interactive School of Hard Knocks and The Foundry. Adventure seekers can ride 10-foot waves at the Wave House, learn how to handle birds of prey with falconry lessons, or visit the world’s largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel.
Looking ahead, the evolution shows no signs of stopping, says Hong. In April, the Singapore Sports Hub, a massive 86.5-acre sports and entertainment complex, is slated to open. In May, the 134-room Sofitel So Singapore is expected to open in the city’s central business district. Last November, Singapore welcomed the 301-room Westin Singapore, situated on Marina Bay, with 14,531 square feet of meeting space.
In 2015, the city-state is also gearing up to debut the new National Art Gallery. Housed inside two treasured heritage buildings, it will feature Singaporean and Southeast Asian art that dates from the 19th century to the present. Next year also marks an important anniversary — the country’s 50th — as an independent nation.