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Why Are Cities like Singapore an Important Issue to Study Within the Tourism Context?

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Why are cities like Singapore an important issue to study within the tourism context?

Studying Singapore as a Urban Tourist destination

Introduction:

Urbanization is a global process, described by Johnston (1981:363) as a 'process by which: first, an increasing proportion of an area's population become concentrated in its statistically defined urban spaces'. (Hall, 2003: 1)

From the past we can see that a number of towns and cities have evolved as important locations for tourism activity. During the renaissance period, a number of educational institutions, health spas and religious centers in Europe attracted a large number of people to urban destinations.

According to law (1993:1)'large cities are arguably the most important type of tourist destination across the world' and yet urban areas have greatly been neglected in the most academic studies of tourism. . (Hall, 2003: 9)

The expansion in unrestricted leisure time and increased standards of living has contributed to the demand of travel. The management of this process had been misunderstood and very limited research has been done towards this endeavor. A notable feature of the pattern of tourist travel is the significance of urban destinations serving as gateways for tourist entry for the country. For example, the development of Bangkok as a tourist destination can be attributed to it being a gateway to a large extent. Since little emphasis has been paid towards tourism research in urban areas, the public sector doesn't see the need to understand the urban tourist and that essentially is the crux of problems of unplanned urban destinations. Many a times, the development is so haphazard that it can have adverse effects to cities. In order to understand why tourist chooses an urban destination requires a deep understanding of the human psychology as in what really motivates tourists to travel to urban destinations. While we can clearly say that tourists are attracted to urban areas mainly due to the facilities available, there are many other reasons that we will analyze in order to understand the tourist psyche.

Why people travel to urban destinations? (Hall: 2003: 58)

* Fulfillment of a desire

* Shopping- Malls and shopping festivals

* Escape from the routine

* Relaxation, recreation and recuperation

* Entertainment/Sightseeing- night clubs, Casinos

* VFR

* Prestige

* Cultural/Religious and heritage tours-Historic Monuments, Museums and theatres

* Education

* Business travelers/ Conventions

* Social interaction/personal reasons

* Mega events- Olympics, Beauty Contests.

Planning

Planning for tourism has conventionally been focused on zoning, site development, accommodation and building regulations, the density of tourist development, the presentation of cultural, historical and natural tourism features, and the provision of infrastructure, including roads and sewerage. However in the recent years a lot of emphasis is being laid on the social and environmental impacts. For example carrying capacity is one of the important issues that need to be dealth with during the initial planning process. Also, since tourism is an increasingly important component of the economies; it is being professed as a national goal and constant efforts are made by governments to bridge the gap that exists between the ideologies of the private and public stake holders so that they can work in harmony.

At a global scale, almost 46% of the world's population live in urban areas and by the year 2030, this is set to rise to 61%.There has been a growing significance of urban areas and spaces for the consumption of tourism and leisure experiences. The important question at this juncture is whether cities can sustain and accommodate tourists and if yes, what steps need to be taken in order to make ends meet?

By understanding Tourism Development in Singapore, and redefining Tourism in a wider perspective, we will try to analyze the reasons why people are attracted to such destinations and the role of the stakeholders in making it successful.

Tourism in Singapore

Tourism in Singapore has been quite successful and that is one of the reasons why it has been looked at as a model for urban tours in the recent years. In the following passage we will analyze the reasons why Singapore has emerged as a tourist destination. From a modest 98000 visitors in 1965, Singapore has surely come a long way to a record of 8 million a year in 2004.These statistics definitely reveal a remarkable success to an island state measuring about 648 sq km in area. Singapore also has been classified by the World Tourism Organization as one among the top 20 tourist destinations. Singapore Tourism Board lays out ambitious targets of tripling Tourism Receipts and creating 100,000 additional jobs in the tourism industry by 2015, supported by a S$2 billion Tourism Development Fund.

Singapore is the busiest port in the world with over 600 shipping lines sending super tankers, container ships and passenger liners

Singapore's strategic location, excellent facilities, fascinating cultural contrasts and tourist attractions contribute to its success as a leading destination for both business and pleasure. Some factors that have contributed significantly towards tourism growth in Singapore are:

(a) Tourists from all over the world were welcome into the republic and there were hardly any visa /foreign exchange restrictions

(b) Strict regulations were enforced to ensure the safety of visitors

(c) To keep the environment clean, tough pollution control measures were introduced.

(d) Liberal aviation policies.

The Government of Singapore is considering the development of an Integrated Resort (IR) with world-class amenities which may include hotels, convention facilities, retail and dining, entertainment shows, themed attractions and a casino. Understanding the implications, the casino might have on the safe and clean image of Singapore there is already a proposal by the Ministry

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