The South Asian country, Singapore has long held a special place in the hearts of Indian travellers. Looking back to the statistics of 2022, India was listed among the top five tourist markets for Singapore. Fast forward to 2023, and Singapore still remains a top destination for Indian travellers, trailing only behind Indonesia.
“Up to July 2023, Singapore extended a warm welcome to 6.28 lakh Indian visitors, showcasing a robust growth trajectory. This diverse influx includes segments like families, young adventurers, cruise enthusiasts, business meetings and incentive groups,” said GB Srithar, Regional Director, India, Middle East & South Asia, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), in conversation with ETTravelWorld.
Srithar added that the Indian audience coming to Singapore underscores its enduring significance as a vital source market. “Even at the midway point of the year, India maintains its place among the top markets, poised to become the fourth largest source market, trailing just behind Indonesia and Australia.”
While India remains a cornerstone market, he added that Singapore has also been successful in attracting visitors from other traditional markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia. “Additionally, long-haul markets like the US and UK also continue to contribute positively to Singapore’s visitor numbers,” he added.
Capturing the young audience
Post-Covid, there has been a noticeable shift in the preferences of Indian travellers, particularly the younger generation and for Singapore, the initiatives like “Lost and Found in Singapore” have helped in capturing the imagination of young Indian travellers. A first-of-its-kind initiative by a National Tourism Organisation in India, as mentioned by Srithar, this interactive film project is a collaboration with MX Player, allowing viewers to explore alternative storylines and endings, showcasing Singapore’s experiences in an engaging manner.
“With initiatives like these, we continuously seek creative and innovative projects that authentically promote Singapore as a destination. We’ve worked on OTT series, TV programs, Bollywood collaborations, and more. The unique aspect of Lost and Found was its interactive element, offering alternative twists and turns in the storyline,” Srithar shared.
Apart from these, Srithar said the country would bring more such initiatives that will offer fresh experiences to the young audience. Some of the standout events that also attract this segment include the thrilling Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, the Singapore Food Festival, and the ZoukOut dance music festival.
The destination has a growing popularity among Indian millennials and Generation Z travellers, particularly as the destination of choice for cruise vacations and vibrant nightlife, he shared.
“They are actively partaking in various experiences, including visits to food and beverage outlets and for the younger Indian audience, those under the age of 35, they are seeking out lifestyle events and entertainment hotspots,” he added.
Robust connectivity and visa-friendly travel
With over seven years of experience as the Regional Director at STB, Srithar understands what makes Singapore a preferred destination for Indian travellers. He believes that the high brand affinity Indians have for Singapore stems from several factors, one being the connectivity.
“With a flight time of just five and a half hours, coupled with an extensive network of 17 direct connections to various Indian cities, Singapore stands out as one of the most well-connected destinations for Indian travellers. The visitation from India remains a pivotal aspect of Singapore’s tourism, and the intention is to continually welcome Indian tourists and as we look ahead to the remainder of the year, the prospect of enhancing connectivity remains crucial,” explained Srithar.
When asked, he added that the extent of this expansion, however, hinges on discussions and negotiations between aviation authorities and airlines. “At this juncture, it is challenging to provide specific details, as it is contingent upon economic factors and airline decisions. Nevertheless, the hope is that over time, more direct connections to Singapore will materialise, further enhancing accessibility, Srithar commented.
“We are open to opportunities when it comes to new city connections within India. The recent successful launch of the Bhubaneshwar connection serves as an example of the proactive collaboration between state governments and aviation authorities,” he said.
On similar lines, Srithar highlighted that Singapore ranks among the most extensively linked destinations for Indian travellers, given the fact that the visa application process is user-friendly, offering the convenience of obtaining a visa typically within a swift timeframe of three to five days.
Singapore’s appeal doesn’t stop there; it constantly rejuvenates and reinvents itself based on feedback from travellers and industry professionals in India, said Srithar. This continuous evolution ensures that visitors are treated to fresh and exciting experiences with every visit, he said.
Trade ties with ‘partner-friends’ crucial
In a world where partnerships can make or break tourism destinations, Srithar underscored the pivotal role that Indian travel trade plays in Singapore’s marketing and promotion.
“The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) stands out as one of the most proactive and dedicated National Tourism organisations, especially when it comes to engaging with the travel trade. In fact, our approach goes beyond mere business relationships; we like to refer to our counterparts in the travel trade as ‘partner-friends,’ a term I prefer to use with profound conviction,” said Srithar.
This unique nomenclature, he said, reflects the depth of STB’s partnerships in India. “Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with numerous travel trade partner-friends who share a genuine enthusiasm for working closely with us. They actively participate in discussions, eagerly receive our product updates, offer valuable insights, and collaborate on initiatives aimed at promoting Singapore to Indian audiences.”
At STB, travel trade engagement represents a cornerstone of their endeavors and therefore, the approach revolves around deepening connections and achieving together. “We actively participate in various road shows and travel trade engagement platforms, continually seeking opportunities to strengthen these bonds,” Srithar elaborated.
Sustainability: A shared commitment
The global emphasis on sustainability is a topic of paramount importance, and Singapore is fully committed to the cause. According to Srithar, the country’s commitment to sustainability is a collaborative effort involving close coordination with its tourism stakeholders as the active participation of businesses across Singapore in integrating sustainability into their offerings showcases a collective endeavour to shape a greener future.
According to him a significant milestone in Singapore’s sustainable journey was the introduction of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 in 2021, which establishes ambitious and clear objectives for the coming decade. This also underscores Singapore’s dedication to align with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) actively seeks to lead and collaborate with the tourism industry to promote sustainable practices. A noteworthy achievement is Singapore’s certification to the Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination Criteria by Vireo Srl in March 2023, underscoring its commitment to becoming a sustainable urban destination while maintaining its status as a City in Nature,” Srithar noted.