Mumbai: Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) held a joint briefing in Mumbai recently. G B Srithar, Regional Director – IMESA, STB and Isabel Cheng, Chief Marketing Officer, WRS were present along with the newly appointed area directors for India and South Asia at STB, Raymond Lim (New Delhi office) and Lim Si Ting, based in Mumbai.

Srithar emphasised how important India as a source market is for Singapore. “India is the third largest source market for us and the number one when it comes to the cruise segment. For many attractions, India is the number one source market or one among top three, be it Gardens by the Bay, WRS or Resorts World Sentosa.”

Another fact Srithar highlighted was that the attractions in Singapore undergo constant refresh and additions. “Singapore doesn’t wait for an attraction to become jaded. The best example is the Jewel Changi, opened earlier this year, a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex on the landside of Changi Airport, linked to three of its passenger terminals and boasting the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, Rain Vortex.”

WRS manages the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park and the River Safari, all in the Mandai Lake area. The Night Safari which is most popular among Indian travellers is celebrating its Silver Jubilee. “WRS has a five-year master plan for rejuvenating the experiences and in collaboration with STB we are converting Mandai into a big integrated nature and wildlife precinct,” said Cheng.

The elephant exhibits are moving to a larger area and the F&B zone is getting redesigned. The undeveloped areas under WRS are getting transformed as per the master plan. The Jurong Bird Park, another favourite with Indian visitors, will move to a new bigger location in Mandai in the next two years.

A fantabulous addition will be the Rainforest Park where visitors will get to go on a canopy and enter a cave to see rainforests from above the ground as well as below. A 400-keys eco-accommodation by Banyan Tree is another planned development. Accommodation types will vary from tree houses to glamping options and traditional hotel rooms. A nature-themed indoor attraction and green public spaces are also part of the master plan.

“Mandai will become the new sought after destination on the lines of Marina Bay and Sentosa,” said Srithar. “Mandai is expected to enhance the current length of stay of six nights by one or two more nights for the Indian traveller.”

WRS will see a phased development and opening of rejuvenated and new attractions. The new Bird Park will be operational by 2021; At Singapore Zoo, the refurbished KidzWorld, movement of the elephant exhibits and third season of Rainforest Lumina will all be completed in the next one year. For Rainforest Lumina, the second season of which is currently underway till February 2020, the Singapore Zoo magically transforms into an enchanted world of lights, virtual animals and immersive play, at night fall.

“Mandai is all about conservation of biodiversity and creating a sustainable model for ecofriendly tourism,” added Cheng.

Building on the success of previous editions, STB has launched a new version of the In Singapore Incentives & Rewards (INSPIRE), an incentive programme to attract more visitors from the growing Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) sector. In partnership with 29 local Singapore businesses, Global INSPIRE offers a selection of over 60 complimentary experiences that qualified MICE groups visiting Singapore can enjoy. Such experiences include visits to Sentosa, Mount Faber, Gardens by the Bay, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the Singapore Flyer, as well as unique experiences such as dragon boat team-building.

“India is a big source market for MICE,” informed Srithar. “With 15 cities in India connecting to Singapore with over 200 flights serviced by eight airlines and a seamless visa regime, we register significant MICE movement.”