Monday, March 8, 2010

Excerpt Taken from TTG Asia

Mar 5 - 11, 2010 / No.1602

Integrated pleasures

The city’s new attractions up the ante and look set to cash in on the entertainment dollar. By Karen Yue

1 What has opened? Singapore’s first integrated resort, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), opened four out of six hotels – Hotel Michael, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Festive Hotel and the by-invite-only Crockfords Towers – on January 20 to an almost full-house. The FestiveWalk promenade opened on January 30 and the casino opened its doors on Valentine’s Day. The rest of RWS will open progressively until next year.

The second integrated resort, Marina Bay Sands (MBS) has, however, delayed its opening in February to April 27.

2 What tourism treasures will the two integrated resorts have? RWS will have six different hotels with 1,800 keys, 60 F&B outlets and entertainment facilities including a casino, Universal Studios Singapore, a resident theatre show and FestiveWalk, a half-kilometre strip of dining, retail and entertainment options.

The 2,500-key MBS will have a massive retail space that houses international retail brands, various dining outlets including six celebrity-chef restaurants, unique entertainment options, a casino and the Sands SkyPark, the world’s largest public cantilever with landscaped gardens, restaurants and a swimming pool.

Both resorts will also have a variety of event spaces.

3 Who will flock to Singapore now? While the Singapore Tourism Board expects the mix of MICE and leisure facilities at both resorts to draw travellers of all demographics and nationalities, travel agents here believe that neighbouring countries will make up the top source markets.

Sebastian Yap, executive director of Transtar Travel, which currently handles fewer than 100,000 pax from Malaysia, expects a growth of 25 to 30 per cent in volume when the resorts open fully.

An inside source at RWS said 200 to 300 coaches full of Malaysian daytrippers would arrive at the resort’s doorstep each day.

Indian agents also reported strong interest from corporate groups.

Mumbai’s Mercury Travels head – MICE, Augustine Barretto, said the resorts would help Singapore outrun Hong Kong, seen as a strong competitor to Singapore, in the race for the MICE dollar.

“Indian MICE travellers are like children. They like fun and theme parks. Singapore’s new range of products – Universal Studios Singapore, the casino (and other) new attractions in Singapore – will allow Singapore to beat Hong Kong,” Barretto said.

4 Will the length of stay increase? Buyers at the recent ASEAN Tourism Forum were confident about selling more days in Singapore.

Belgium-based Antipodes Voyages CEO Marc Lambert said the new products would allow him to sell three-day packages instead of the usual two, while Manila’s El Camino Travel & Events president & general manager Vernon Prieto said the theme park would encourage longer transits in Singapore for his clients going to Indonesia.

5 What are travel agents doing? Transtar Travel will include Universal Studios Singapore in its coach tour packages, while Five Stars Tours will expand its fleet of coaches for daily departures from various points across Malaysia to the resorts.
Outbound coach specialist Grassland Express & Tours is also planning to sell inbound packages and may eventually expand its fleet size.

City Tours, which runs FunVee Hopper buses around Singapore with stops at tourist locations and major hotels, has added Universal Studios Singapore to its Sentosa Attractions Hopper schedule.

It also plans to enhance its Marina Attractions Hopper schedule with MBS attractions and create four-day/three-night packages that give visitors more time in Singapore.

6 Should hoteliers in Singapore be worried about the competition? Singapore hotels will benefit from the limited room supply and higher room rates at the resorts.

Gullivers Travel Associates senior contract manager Susan Goh said: “We have roped in midrange hotels such as Fort Canning Lodge and Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen for price-conscious travellers.”

Room rates at these hotels average S$100 (US$70.91) compared to the average rate of S$300 at RWS.

Fragrance Hotel Management has partnered Malaysian tour and coach operators to provide refresher stops for daytrippers to take a quick rest and shower before proceeding to RWS’ casino or the Universal Studios theme park.

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