STB plans to develop Southern Islands into tourist attraction

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) plans to develop the six islands off the southern tip of Sentosa into a tourist attraction.This, as its $12b Sentosa masterplan — which includes Harbourfront and the Southern Islands — is expected to be completed ahead of schedule in 2010.

The comment came on the sidelines of an industry conference where STB also revealed that Singapore is set to welcome another record number of visitors this year.

The STB wants to tap on the momentum of the Sentosa integrated resort bid and extend investor interest to the islands nearby.

Exploring the potential of developing land around the Marina Bay and Sentosa areas, the STB concluded that enhancing the lush greenery and natural foliage of the Southern Islands will make them irresistible as a tourist destination.

The Southern Islands include the Sisters’ Island, Kusu Island and St John Island.

The agency says the Southern Islands already boast a Chinese temple, natural ecosystems and a resort-like atmosphere.

So it is conceivable to turn some of them into a resort island, a cultural site or an interactive rainforest park.

Designers say there is a trend towards mixing education and entertainment when it comes to creating a tourist destination that leverages on the natural resources of a given place.

They say the Southern Islands have the potential to become such a themed destination.

Citing Hamburg’s Regenwald House, Shawn McCoy, Marketing Director of Jack Rouse Associates, said: “There’s a great project in Hamburg called the Regenwald House. Basically, it’s a rainforest where you walk through and you can interpret some of the flora and fauna that are there. Everything, from audio wands to rain sequence – so it rains on you. It’s manufactured, sure it’s synthetic but you’re actually learning about the natural environment.”

STB expects to announce details for the development of the Southern Islands and seek request-for-concepts as early as next March.

Total investment in Sentosa alone reached S$3.1 billion in the fiscal year ending in March.

This is a 68% increase compared to a year ago.

On tourist arrivals, STB says Singapore is expected to receive its 9th million visitor anytime now.

This will set a second consecutive year of record high for tourist numbers.

Singapore welcomed 8.94 million visitors in 2005.

Source: Channel NewsAsia, 29 November 2006  

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