May 22, 2022

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Problems and opportunities as Singapore targets getting a sustainable tourism place

8 min read

SINGAPORE: Whilst Singapore will confront difficulties as it tries to turn into a sustainable tourism location, marketplace gamers and specialists are confident that it can meet up with this sort of a target.

Speaking to CNA, Mr Christopher Khoo, the managing director for worldwide tourism consultancy Masterconsult Providers, reported the shift would be the “responsible” matter to do.

“I applaud Singapore’s determination to embrace this entire principle of sustainability in tourism, simply because which is I think not only the ideal way to go, it is the responsible factor to do,” he mentioned.

The move is one of the 2030 targets under the eco-friendly economy – one of the 5 key pillars in the Singapore Green Plan unveiled previously this year.

“Ten decades from now, we also hope that world tourism will have sprung again into a a lot more lively sector. Travelers will have a bigger desire in sustainable travel solutions, for illustration, eco-welcoming resorts and sights,” said Minister for Trade and Sector Chan Chun Sing in his speech in Parliament for the duration of the Joint Phase on Sustainability final month.

“To put together ourselves for these chances, we are reworking Sentosa into a carbon-neutral place by 2030. Through these initiatives, we will strengthen Singapore as an exemplary sustainable tourism desired destination,” he said.

Explained Mr Khoo: “On the full, sustainable tourism is a little something that is getting more and more important. In tourism, it truly is not some thing new … Sustainability has become much more and additional critical, people today are recognising the need to have 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 site visitors spending a full of S$27.1 billion in tourism receipts.

Browse: Shifts in engineering, sustainability current alternatives for tourism sector in the very long operate: Chan Chun Sing

As outlined by the Planet Tourism Organisation (UNTWO), sustainable tourism need to include a few most important objectives.

These include things like generating “optimal use” of environmental sources as properly as aiding to preserve all-natural heritage and biodiversity. In addition, this variety of tourism need to also respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, claimed UNTWO on its website.

It also demands to assure feasible, long-time period financial operations, providing socio-financial positive aspects to all stakeholders that are “fairly distributed”.

Noting that achieving sustainable tourism is a “continuous process”, tourism expert Shirley Tee reported that these a spot must also include “curated meaningful experiences” that let a tourist to comprehend and be mindful of sustainability difficulties within the group, as well as include functions that boost the location country’s economic climate

“Efforts to safeguard and preserve our economic authentic estate can also be tied in with our journey in direction of getting a sustainable tourism vacation spot. For instance, making sure that built-up regions with more mature properties and our special heritage be retained and not discarded owing to financial pressure will support us maintain the social and urban cloth of the country,” included Ms Tee, who is a senior supervisor at Nanyang Polytechnic’s (NYP) Faculty of Small business Administration. 

“This also results in more sustainable tourism avenues for travellers to take a look at, and discover more about.”


Mr Khoo famous that travellers have now become “more discerning” in their preference of service providers in the nation they visit. One of the ways in which they do this is to glance for sustainably sourced products and solutions or items sourced regionally.

Study: Green System seeks to make new employment, make use of sustainability as ‘competitive advantage’ for Singapore

“As much more travellers are informed of the importance of sustainability, they will search out for merchandise that are eco-welcoming and acquire from enterprises that embrace sustainability.  Singapore as a place can’t ignore sustainability and it helps make business feeling to embrace it,” explained Ngee Ann Polytechnic senior lecturer in tourism Michael Chiam.

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

Dr Kevin Cheong, who is chairman of the Association of Singapore Sights, claimed nearby attractions can start with basic matters, these kinds of as questioning whether brochures or tickets are needed.
“At the similar time not just the existing sights but the new attractions coming on stream, they should commence building their attractions in a aware way, in that deliberate method. Style and design for sustainability,” he included.

Past thirty day period, Sentosa Improvement Company (SDC) announced the resort island would be remodeled into a carbon-neutral desired destination by 2030. This would be a “vital target” in its extended-term sustainability plan, it stated.

“It is feasible for Sentosa to direct the way in lowering its carbon emissions and trialling new methods, presented the one of a kind island atmosphere and SDC staying a single precinct operator functioning hand in hand with the neighborhood on Sentosa,” it said in a push release.

“SDC will discover and function with technological innovation companions to testbed sustainable technologies and concepts on Sentosa, even though also bringing on board some 200 businesses inside Sentosa to do the job towards the aspiration of island carbon neutrality.”

Ms Kwee Wei-Lin, who is the president of the Singapore Lodge Affiliation (SHA), claimed that to “safeguard” the long run of the hotel industry, sustainability is the crucial to lengthy time period good results. 

Approaches in which lodges can and have chipped in to do their component include giving recycling bins in guest rooms, filtered drinking water taps in visitor rooms instead of plastic bottled water, as well as a paperless verify-in and check out-out procedure, she mentioned.

“Greening the offer chain is also an critical aspect of our journey in direction of sustainable tourism,” Ms Kwee claimed.

“Lodges can perform with vendors to use environmentally-welcoming packaging supplies, ask for for suppliers to minimise packaging for their deliveries, provide eco-friendly items, which could variety from office environment supplies to furnishings and paints to cleaning goods, as nicely as to resource from sustainable food items resources.”

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

In addition, SHA has also proven the Hotel Sustainability Committee (HSC) which comprise both non-public and public sector reps, who will “conceptualise solutions and methods that bring together sustainability and business value”, she added.

At the identical time, Mr Khoo observed that Singapore would also want to maintain itself up to a unique established of criteria as it attempts to reach its goal. 

“Different international locations have bought various accreditation strategies … These accreditation schemes are normally pretty precise to areas or locations,” he stated.
Whilst Singapore may perhaps not be “specific” ample for these kinds of a tailored plan, these strategies are very important in the location of sustainability, he additional.
“Because you simply cannot just say, I want to do nicely, you need to measure you against a standard.”

“There is however a deficiency of recognition and vast adoption of sustainable practices. Though there is a blueprint, there is no clear assimilation for the hospitality and tourism organisations on the dos and don’ts,” explained Ms Tee.

“What we will need now is qualified initiatives to raise the understanding of sustainable methods and clear tips for execution.”

At STB’s annual industry convention final 7 days, its chief government Keith Tan reported that it would be approaching field players around the coming months to share its feelings on establishing tactics and a roadmap for place sustainability.

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“Ultimately, we really do not just want to be known as a sustainable desired destination, but as a terrific area for companies to check mattress sustainable tourism remedies,” Mr Tan had explained, citing examples these kinds of as a net zero-carbon lodge or leisure party.


At the STB conference, Mr Chan said that Singapore’s tourism sector will also have to capture chances in the change toward sustainability.

While Singapore could not be capable to contend with other “eco-destinations” offered its land shortage and deficiency of pure landscapes, the country’s value proposition arrives from “the intangibles”, he stated.

“We want to be the very best put to test bed sustainable options, new merchandise and new encounters, enabling businesses from close to the environment to start initially-to-market solutions and improvements, suitable here in Singapore,” said Mr Chan.

Mr Khoo mentioned that Singapore has a quantity of “pluses” which it can use to its benefit, even while it is not typically found as a character spot.
“Being thoroughly clean and inexperienced is a major edge. We have often experienced that. And then we’ve got the gain of getting four exceptional nature parks … We do have a incredibly comfortable side, and that in the part is basically heading to be pushed a minimal bit extra when the Mandai spot is even more formulated,” he additional.
“So we have bought a very balanced product in that feeling, in conditions of expressing that we are also sustainable.”
Dr Chiam pointed out that Singapore is not new to the space of sustainability.

“We have hosted many planet-renowned sustainability occasions these as Planet Metropolitan areas Summit, Singapore Intercontinental H2o Working day and Singapore Worldwide Electrical power Week … This makes Singapore a sustainable location from the MICE viewpoint,” he mentioned.

“The challenge is how to translate this understanding to something conveniently adopted by area firms. The Singapore Eco-friendly System 2030 is a excellent automobile to push recognition among nearby businesses on the importance of embracing the sustainability motion.” 

Dr Chiam also pointed out that there are a number of “success stories” when it will come to sustainability between businesses in the tourism marketplace.

Visitors feed a giraffe in an enclosure at the Singapore Zoo

Site visitors feed a giraffe at the Singapore Zoo on its 1st day of reopening to the public after the attraction was quickly closed due to worries about COVID-19, Jul 6, 2020. (Image: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

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

Going through UP TO COSTS 

At the same time, involved expenses could be an situation as Singapore strives to attain this goal, stated specialists.
“I assume expense or running charges will normally be an challenge, as Singapore appears to be to implement distinctive benchmarks, for instance, it will just signify that our organizations have to adhere to anything that in the upcoming will grow to be more important,” stated Mr Khoo.
He observed that given how the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced journey to a halt, now would be an opportune time to put into practice some changes.

“Everybody’s minds are really malleable, we are in a pretty plastic circumstance, you established us in the ideal direction, it will stand us in fantastic stead 10, 20 yrs from now,” he defined
NYP’s Ms Tee famous that the S$68.5 million that the Govt will pump into the Tourism Enhancement Fund for organizations wanting to exam-bed sustainable tourism offerings is a “good sign” that Singapore is transferring in the ideal direction.
At the identical time, Dr Cheong pointed out that attraction operators would need to have aid from the Govt even as they request to turn into additional sustainable in the way they function.
“(Value) is exactly where we hope the Govt can give us a leg up,” he mentioned. 
“COVID-19 has strike us deep in the main, our economical main. Lots of smaller attractions, SME (tiny- and medium-size enterprises) attractions may not have the monetary hunger … But I assume if we do it collectively, in a one-minded fashion, with govt aid, I believe we can make a variation.”  

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