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Europe growth strategy in place for Singapore Tourism

Singapore welcomed record growth in the number of visitors from Europe. In 2007, close to 1.3 million European visitors travelled to Singapore – a growth of 4.6 per cent over 2006. The United Kingdom and Germany remain the key European source markets, making up about 496,000 and 165,000 visitors respectively. Double-digit…

Singapore welcomed record growth in the number of visitors from Europe. In 2007, close to 1.3 million European visitors travelled to Singapore – a growth of 4.6 per cent over 2006. The United Kingdom and Germany remain the key European source markets, making up about 496,000 and 165,000 visitors respectively. Double-digit growth was also seen in visitors from Spain (25,000 visitors, 17.5 per cent), Russia (over 44,000, 17.0 per cent), Denmark (over 31,000, 16.1 per cent) and France (over 99,000, 10.0 per cent)

Riding High on Interest in Asia

Currently with offices in London and Frankfurt, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is set to officially open another full-fledged office in Moscow, Russia by mid 2008. The STB aims to broaden the base for growth by increasing trade activities in France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland while maintaining strong presence in Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Interest in Asia has been growing due to increasing awareness of the region’s myriad cultural and historical attractions arising from strong media interest. Singapore is also benefiting from environmental factors such as its geographical location which makes it a natural hub for travellers between Europe and Australia, and improved air access with new flights by Singapore Airlines which has introduced the new A380 on the London-Singapore route and increased the number of weekly flights out of Europe by over 40 per cent.  Cities with increased flights include Barcelona, Milan and Russia (seven weekly each), Paris (10 weekly) and Switzerland (14 weekly).

2008 Marketing Strategy

i) Increasing Trade Activities

2008 will see STB Europe planning to spend 50 per cent more on marketing in countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland. While the effects of these activities will be seen largely over the medium- to long-term, the STB still expects 2008 visitor arrivals from Europe to grow by at least three per cent.

Operationally, this will translate into more sales calls throughout the region, greater participation in tourism road shows and increased collaboration with tour operators and internet-based travel providers.

STB will also be targeting to increase travel during off-peak periods.  For instance in Russia, one of Singapore’s fastest emerging source markets, STB Europe will be working to set in place the impetus for new travel behaviours to develop. Currently, Russians are more used to travelling to Asia in the winter months to escape the biting cold, resulting in extremely busy travel periods in winter and quiet summer months. Hence, STB’s Moscow office will not only be working in-market to encourage Russians to continue travelling out to warmer regions such as Singapore at the end of the year, but also to venture out throughout the year to explore Singapore and the region.

ii) Reshaping Perception of Singapore Through Media Engagement

With increased media interest in Asia, the STB will also be upping the number of media familiarisation groups so that key European media can experience Singapore first hand. This is critical as media and public perceptions of Singapore are outdated, especially in view of Singapore’s recent tourism developments.

“Europeans are increasingly curious about Asia and Singapore is an ideal destination for them to experience the colour and vibrancy of Asia while at the same time enjoying a lifestyle experience complete with great shopping, a vibrant night scene and a mouth-watering variety of local and international cuisines,” said Mr Oliver Chong, Regional Director of Europe, Singapore Tourism Board. With Singapore having undergone a transformation in recent years, he added that, “Many Europeans who have not visited Singapore in the past five years are discovering that Singapore is now a much more vibrant destination with a lot more to experience. In fact, just recently we invited a member of the English media on a media familiarisation trip to Singapore and he was surprised at how dynamic the Singapore scene had become since he last visited, and as a 47 year old, he was even more surprised at how much he enjoyed Zoukout 2007 till five in the morning!”

iii) Strengthening Singapore’s Links With Partner Destinations

Singapore will be leveraging on its strategic location in Asia to enable visitors from Europe to enjoy more of the region during their trips to Singapore. By partnering regional destinations such as Bali, Phuket and Australia, visitors will get to enjoy Singapore as part of the Asian experience. This is boosted with Singapore’s good air connectivity linking 180 cities in 57 countries via 80 airlines all over the world.

Outlook Ahead

Even with the worldwide economy now taking on a cautious stance, the outlook on European outbound travel is no different from other regions like Asia or the United States. With enough resilience in European markets and Asia remaining a region that provides European travellers with good value for money, there is cause to remain optimistic that travellers will continue heading out to Asia and Singapore.

Positive Market and Industry Sentiments

Already STB is seeing increased market interest and positive industry reactions. Recently held in March, ITB Berlin 2008, one of the world’s largest travel trade shows with over 10,000 exhibitors from 180 countries, saw STB winning three industry awards.

The Willy Scharnow Award Innovation Award recognised the STB’s contribution to the travel industry with its online training programme for travel agents and industry players in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry in Germany. This online training tool was developed together with the Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau (SECB) and not only provides key information to the travel and MICE trade but also tests participants to gauge their understanding after they complete the training course.

Mr Klaus Laepple, Chairman of the Willy Scharnow Foundation, a renowned German institution that provides training opportunities to tourism professionals, said, “Online training programmes that are available for a variety of destinations differ in their quality. What is new about the Singapore Tourism Board’s course is that it deals with the MICE area. This is innovative and up to now unique in the industry.”

The STB was presented the prize money of 1,500 Euro during the award ceremony held on 6 March 2008 during the ITB Berlin. The prize money was later donated back by the STB to the Willy Scharnow Foundation to support the continued education and training of German travel specialists for the Southeast Asian market.

STB was also recognised as the Best Tourism Board in the go asia awards. The go asia initiative was founded in 2003 to enhance marketing in German-speaking regions. For this award, which was jointly presented by go asia and travel magazine Reise and Preise, readers of the magazine and German travel agents were asked to rate National Tourism Organisations and their achievements.

Students of Cologne Business School, one of Germany’s top business schools, in their annual ranking of the exhibition booths at ITB Berlin ranked the Singapore booth third for the Best Exhibitor Hall in ITB Berlin’s Asia-Pacific Hall. Factors considered include booth presentation, information and service, activities as well as the overall impression made by the booth.

“We are very honoured to be presented with these three awards at the ITB Berlin 2008. It means that we are not only bringing Singapore to the world but making a difference to the travel industry as well. We thank the many people who supported us and gave us their vote of confidence, and look forward to contributing more to the travel and tourism industry here in Europe,” said Mr Chong.