Difficulties and opportunities as Singapore targets getting a sustainable tourism destination

SINGAPORE: Even though Singapore will facial area issues as it tries to develop into a sustainable tourism desired destination, industry gamers and industry experts are assured that it can fulfill these kinds of a focus on.

Talking to CNA, Mr Christopher Khoo, the running director for worldwide tourism consultancy Masterconsult Providers, mentioned the transfer would be the “responsible” point to do.

“I applaud Singapore’s choice to embrace this full idea of sustainability in tourism, since that’s I believe not only the ideal way to go, it is the responsible detail to do,” he said.

The move is one of the 2030 targets below the green economy – one of the 5 critical pillars in the Singapore Inexperienced Program unveiled before this year.

“Ten years from now, we also assume that world wide tourism will have sprung back again into a much more vivid sector. Travelers will have a better desire in sustainable vacation options, for case in point, eco-friendly motels and attractions,” reported Minister for Trade and Marketplace Chan Chun Sing in his speech in Parliament all through the Joint Segment on Sustainability past month.

“To put together ourselves for these prospects, we are reworking Sentosa into a carbon-neutral desired destination by 2030. By means of these types of efforts, we will strengthen Singapore as an exemplary sustainable tourism location,” he reported.

Claimed Mr Khoo: “On the entire, sustainable tourism is something that is getting to be progressively significant. In tourism, it is not anything new … Sustainability has come to be much more and more critical, individuals are recognising the will need to be dependable.”

In accordance to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), there were also 19.1 million website visitors to Singapore in 2019, with these guests spending a full of S$27.1 billion in tourism receipts.

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As defined by the Planet Tourism Organisation (UNTWO), sustainable tourism need to include three main goals.

These contain making “optimal use” of environmental sources as well as aiding to conserve organic heritage and biodiversity. In addition, this sort of tourism should really also regard the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, mentioned UNTWO on its web page.

It also requirements to be certain feasible, extended-expression financial operations, offering socio-economic positive aspects to all stakeholders that are “fairly distributed”.

Noting that attaining sustainable tourism is a “continuous process”, tourism expert Shirley Tee stated that this sort of a desired destination should also include “curated significant experiences” that allow for a vacationer to have an understanding of and be aware of sustainability difficulties in the local community, as properly as include routines that endorse the desired destination country’s financial system

“Efforts to shield and protect our economic serious estate can also be tied in with our journey to remaining a sustainable tourism place. For instance, making certain that created-up spots with older properties and our exclusive heritage be retained and not discarded thanks to financial force will support us protect the social and city cloth of the country,” added Ms Tee, who is a senior supervisor at Nanyang Polytechnic’s (NYP) School of Enterprise Administration. 

“This also results in more sustainable tourism avenues for visitors to go to, and master additional about.”


Mr Khoo famous that travellers have now become “more discerning” in their preference of assistance companies in the region they check out. One particular of the approaches in which they do this is to seem for sustainably sourced goods or solutions sourced regionally.

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“As additional travellers are informed of the significance of sustainability, they will glance out for items that are eco-friendly and invest in from enterprises that embrace sustainability.  Singapore as a place can not dismiss sustainability and it would make organization feeling to embrace it,” said Ngee Ann Polytechnic senior lecturer in tourism Michael Chiam.

“Many Singapore tourism-relevant organizations are now embracing the sustainable initiatives. What organizations can do is to dive deeper into adopting much more and far more sustainable procedures in their businesses.”

Dr Kevin Cheong, who is chairman of the Affiliation of Singapore Points of interest, explained nearby sights can start with basic points, this kind of as questioning whether brochures or tickets are essential.
“At the similar time not just the existing sights but the new points of interest coming on stream, they should start building their attractions in a aware method, in that deliberate manner. Layout for sustainability,” he additional.

Previous month, Sentosa Enhancement Company (SDC) announced the resort island would be reworked into a carbon-neutral spot by 2030. This would be a “vital target” in its long-phrase sustainability approach, it said.

“It is probable for Sentosa to direct the way in reducing its carbon emissions and trialling new options, offered the exceptional island atmosphere and SDC currently being a solitary precinct operator doing the job hand in hand with the neighborhood on Sentosa,” it said in a press release.

“SDC will establish and work with technological innovation companions to testbed sustainable technologies and ideas on Sentosa, though also bringing on board some 200 organizations in just Sentosa to function in the direction of the aspiration of island carbon neutrality.”

Ms Kwee Wei-Lin, who is the president of the Singapore Lodge Association (SHA), explained that to “safeguard” the long term of the hotel industry, sustainability is the important to very long expression accomplishment. 

Means in which motels can and have chipped in to do their element involve supplying recycling bins in visitor rooms, filtered water taps in guest rooms instead of plastic bottled h2o, as very well as a paperless test-in and check out-out method, she claimed.

“Greening the source chain is also an significant component of our journey in direction of sustainable tourism,” Ms Kwee stated.

“Resorts can do the job with distributors to use environmentally-helpful packaging products, ask for for suppliers to minimise packaging for their deliveries, give eco-welcoming merchandise, which could array from office environment materials to household furniture and paints to cleaning solutions, as very well as to resource from sustainable meals resources.”

kites over marina bay sands

File picture of kites traveling close to the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore. (Photograph: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

In addition, SHA has also recognized the Resort Sustainability Committee (HSC) which comprise both private and public sector associates, who will “conceptualise answers and procedures that provide together sustainability and professional value”, she extra.

At the very same time, Mr Khoo noted that Singapore would also will need to maintain by itself up to a certain set of specifications as it tries to realize its goal. 

“Different international locations have received various accreditation techniques … These accreditation schemes are usually really particular to areas or destinations,” he claimed.
When Singapore may well not be “specific” adequate for this sort of a tailor-made plan, these schemes are quite important in the area of sustainability, he included.
“Because you are not able to just say, I want to do well, you ought to measure you in opposition to a standard.”

“There is even now a lack of recognition and huge adoption of sustainable methods. Although there is a blueprint, there is no apparent assimilation for the hospitality and tourism organisations on the dos and don’ts,” mentioned Ms Tee.

“What we have to have now is targeted initiatives to improve the comprehension of sustainable practices and clear rules for execution.”

At STB’s once-a-year business conference previous 7 days, its chief executive Keith Tan reported that it would be approaching sector players about the coming months to share its feelings on producing methods and a roadmap for spot sustainability.

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“Ultimately, we do not just want to be recognised as a sustainable desired destination, but as a great spot for businesses to examination mattress sustainable tourism methods,” Mr Tan had mentioned, citing illustrations this sort of as a net zero-carbon resort or amusement event.

A Good deal OF ‘PLUSES’

At the STB meeting, Mr Chan said that Singapore’s tourism sector will also have to capture options in the change in the direction of sustainability.

Although Singapore may well not be capable to compete with other “eco-destinations” offered its land scarcity and deficiency of purely natural landscapes, the country’s price proposition arrives from “the intangibles”, he reported.

“We want to be the ideal location to examination mattress sustainable solutions, new merchandise and new ordeals, enabling businesses from around the earth to start first-to-market place remedies and innovations, suitable below in Singapore,” claimed Mr Chan.

Mr Khoo famous that Singapore has a range of “pluses” which it can use to its advantage, even nevertheless it is not typically witnessed as a character place.
“Being clear and green is a major advantage. We’ve generally experienced that. And then we have received the gain of acquiring four wonderful nature parks … We do have a extremely soft aspect, and that in the section is essentially heading to be pushed a small bit extra when the Mandai space is further more formulated,” he added.
“So we’ve received a very well balanced product in that feeling, in terms of expressing that we are also sustainable.”
Dr Chiam observed that Singapore is not new to the area of sustainability.

“We have hosted many globe-renowned sustainability functions such as Globe Cities Summit, Singapore Intercontinental H2o Working day and Singapore Global Electricity Week … This helps make Singapore a sustainable vacation spot from the MICE viewpoint,” he mentioned.

“The obstacle is how to translate this awareness to anything easily adopted by community companies. The Singapore Environmentally friendly Strategy 2030 is a excellent auto to generate consciousness amid local organizations on the relevance of embracing the sustainability movement.” 

Dr Chiam also pointed out that there are a selection of “success stories” when it comes to sustainability between companies in the tourism industry.

Visitors feed a giraffe in an enclosure at the Singapore Zoo

People feed a giraffe at the Singapore Zoo on its initially working day of reopening to the public just after the attraction was briefly shut owing to worries about COVID-19, Jul 6, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

“These tales can act as a catalyst to inspire other organizations to be part of the sustainability motion,” he added.  

Going through UP TO COSTS 

At the identical time, related expenses could be an challenge as Singapore strives to obtain this objective, explained specialists.
“I consider value or taking care of expenses will constantly be an concern, as Singapore seems to implement diverse expectations, for occasion, it will just suggest that our companies have to adhere to something that in the foreseeable future will become a lot more important,” reported Mr Khoo.
He pointed out that given how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought journey to a halt, now would be an opportune time to employ some adjustments.

“Everybody’s minds are extremely malleable, we are in a pretty plastic circumstance, you set us in the ideal direction, it will stand us in very good stead 10, 20 years from now,” he defined
NYP’s Ms Tee mentioned that the S$68.5 million that the Govt will pump into the Tourism Enhancement Fund for organizations looking to test-bed sustainable tourism offerings is a “good sign” that Singapore is transferring in the ideal course.
At the exact time, Dr Cheong pointed out that attraction operators would have to have enable from the Governing administration even as they seek to come to be far more sustainable in the way they work.
“(Cost) is in which we hope the Governing administration can give us a leg up,” he mentioned. 
“COVID-19 has strike us deep in the main, our economical core. Quite a few lesser sights, SME (smaller- and medium-size enterprises) attractions may not have the economical hunger … But I think if we do it collectively, in a one-minded method, with govt assistance, I imagine we can make a variance.”