Last Updated 15 Apr 2021

Singapore Flyer

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Introduction

Our group’s choice of attraction is the Singapore Flyer (FIG. 1). Endorsed by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and opened on 25th April 2008, the Flyer stands at 165m in height and was built at a cost of S$240 million. It is ranked #19 out of 276 attractions in Singapore on TripAdvisor and is one of the attractions that make up the “See Singapore Pass”. A General Assessment of the Singapore Flyer

With reference to Butler’s Tourism Area Cycle of Evolution theory (1980), the Flyer is likely to be at the development stage (third stage) as it has established itself as a well-known paid tourist attraction with sharp planning and strategies designed to attract tourists. Visitor arrivals in 2010 were 30% higher than in 2009, largely due to the Flyer’s $10 million master plan that included the launch of the Singapore Food Trail and the Journey of Dreams interactive gallery[1]. However, it has also faced much criticism for its perceived lack of authenticity and dilution of local culture.

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For example, the Singapore Food Trail (FIG. 2) can be considered a form of constructed authenticity[2] – it has a themed interior design and setting from the past as well as makeshift stalls along the roadside, all of which brings back the nostalgic feel and charm of Singapore in the 1960s. This shows how the Flyer has sought to keep up with “The Tourist” who demands authenticity and associated feelings of nostalgia for the “natural past” (GE2218 Lecture 5, 2013) There are multiple reasons to explain why this attraction was opened.

Firstly, the Flyer is one of a few vantage points that offer both locals and tourists a 360o panoramic view of the cityscape. Secondly, it was to be a revenue-generating attraction for the government as 50% of visitors were expected to be tourists with S$94 million in tourism receipts generated in its opening year. Third, as the Flyer is similarly styled to the London Eye (London being an Alpha++ city[3]), opening it could be viewed as a political and economic gesture to the rest of the world that not only is Singapore a leading world city, it is also an attractive place for foreign investment.

According to Ms Patsy Ong[4], “the opening of Singapore Flyer herald[s] a new age for tourism in Singapore... the unique and exhilarating top-of-the-world experience makes Singapore Flyer a must-see and compelling visitor destination in Asia. ” Fourth, the Flyer provides Singapore with an iconic landmark that can be recognized internationally, more so when set amidst a necklace of attractions such as the iconic Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort next door.

The Flyer serves those who wish to take in Singapore’s cityscape from an aerial view as well as those who want to eat and shop before or after taking the attraction. It tries to cater to a range of age groups, socio-economic back grounds and nationalities. Examples include having student discounts on certain days, family packages, infrastructure that support wheelchair users, multiple restaurants and shops as well as a recreated Rainforest garden (FIG. 3) that provides visitors with a lush tropical feel.

However, despite trying to stay inclusive by catering to the mainstream crowd, many still feel the Flyer tickets are too expensive[5] - it is therefore highly likely that people from lower-income groups are priced out and excluded[6]. The Flyer attracts a range of visitors although the majority of people there were tourists[7]. According to one of the staff at XD Experiential Ride, visitors to the Flyer comprise largely of tourist families and couples. Couples normally visit at night while the weekends see mostly families.

Generally, the complex was observed to be largely empty on a weekday afternoon (FIG. 4). Times of day as well as weather has a great influence on when people visit – most visitors prefer to view the cityscape at night while bad weather limits maximum enjoyment of the ride. Numerous people such as retail and F&B staff, maintenance staff and security staff work at the Flyer with majority of them involved in the security department.

SWOT Analysis Chart

The SWOT analysis chart (FIG. 5) will be used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats involved in the Singapore Flyer.

Identification of the Flyer’s SWOTs are essential as they inform later steps in achieving its ultimate objective – to attract more tourists and to increase tourist revenues. Strengths The Singapore Flyer claims the title as the world’s largest observation wheel – it is a landscape of spectacle[8] by virtue of its sheer size and distinction and is also visually effective and stimulating. Its air-conditioned capsules make it suitable for tourists who are unaccustomed to Singapore’s tropical heat.

Through branding, the Flyer sets itself apart as a world-class lifestyle destination of choice for visitors, offering the best views and fabulous dining[9] all within the same complex (FIG. 6). Joint promotions with retail shops located within the complex are also carried out (FIG. 7). The Flyer is highly accessible by public transport, a necessity as it is likely to be the main mode of transport for tourists. The attraction is directly linked to Promenade MRT station while free shuttle buses operate every half hour to and from City Hall MRT station.

Coach bays for tour buses are also available (FIG. 8). The Flyer also capitalizes on its good Chi or fengshui with its Signature Auspicious Trail that “promises to harness the right Chi or the cohesive flow of position energy that guarantees prosperity, good fortune and longevity. ”[10] This makes it more attractive to the Asian tourist market where many remain auspicious and who believe in collecting good fengshui. In addition, the Flyer actively markets itself to a global audience through link-ups with tour agencies, Singapore Airlines, and schools. Weaknesses

The Flyer lacks originality with some viewing it as a “copycat version” of the London Eye. “Staged authenticity” (Edensor, 2009) is evident in the Flyer’s offerings of bite-sized and packaged “Singaporean” facets – an appropriated artificial “Food Trail” and “Rainforest Discovery” – that reduce and dilute the authenticity of Singapore’s culture and identity to an engineered landscape[11] that may not go down well with locals. Locally however, there has been little or no national awareness about the attraction as little publicity and hype is generated apart from special occasions.

Many locals also have the mindset that the Flyer is a “tourist attraction”, hence they subconsciously exclude themselves from participating in this activity. Opportunities With reference to the consumer/social factor, the Flyer should capitalize on Singapore’s growing popularity as a tourist destination for visitors from all over the world. This growing popularity could very well be a result of our perceived Orientalism/exoticism[12] (Morgan et al, 2012:245) where tourists view Singapore as the “Exotic East”[13] (Jandt, 2004:404).

Moreover, we appeal directly to the tourist who wish to explore South-East Asia but are turned off by many of the other less-developed S. E. A countries – in this way, Singapore could act as the “gateway” to these other countries. Through their transit here, it is highly probable that tourists would want to explore Singapore as well, and hence the Flyer could capitalize on this aspect by marketing itself vigorously as a “must-see destination” for these global tourists.

Economically, opportunities for the Flyer will increase as there is currently huge potential for our MICE sector to grow even more, particularly with the opening of the MBS Convention Centre located right beside the Singapore Flyer. As Chandran Nair, general manager of Singex puts it, "MICE has a strong multiplier effect for the economy. You see major trade shows coming into the countries, and you see hotels, stand contractors, freight forwarders and shops benefit. "[14] This is directly linked to tourism because as the number of MICE conventions held increase, visitor arrivals numbers will definitely grow together in tandem.

As visitors to Singapore increase, they are likely to go sight-seeing and with the Flyer in such close proximity to the MBS Convention Centre, it is hence extremely convenient for visitors to make their way there, thereby boosting visitor arrivals and revenue for the Flyer. Opportunities further arise as the everyday tourist experiences a rise in income and quality of life due to strong domestic growth in their home countries. The Flyer could provide associated services that appeal to these people, thereby capturing a portion of the wealth they are prepared to spend[15].

As reported by ICAEW[16], Singapore’s tourism industry is predicted to benefit from strong domestic growth in countries in the region like Indonesia, where newly rich Indonesians are more able to travel abroad and who are prepared to spend top dollar in their destination countries. Threats A threat could be the increasing number of similar attractions around the world. As countries compete for the tourist dollar, it is vital to note if the Flyer has a competitive edge over any of these other attractions.

Not only does the Flyer have to fight with similar existing attractions (e. g. Ferris Wheel in Taipei[17] and the Menara Tower in Kuala Lumpur[18]), many similar new attractions have also been planned such as the proposed Dubai Eye, The New York Wheel and the Eye on Malaysia. Another threat is the possibility of being overshadowed by newer buildings that offer the same panoramic view of Singapore such as the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, Sky on 57 and 1-Altitude.

Another related point is that as tourists spend an average of just 3. days in Singapore[19], they might choose to visit the more popular and well-known attractions like Sentosa, Singapore Zoo and the Orchard Road shopping district while giving the Flyer a miss. Additionally, the Flyer is extremely vulnerable to adverse weather conditions (e. g. thunderstorms) in which it has no control over. In 2010, lightning struck the Flyer and caused a malfunction in the air-conditioning system; the attraction had to be closed for two days before it was certified safe to re-open.

This shows how attractions that capitalize on offering spectacular scenic views are extremely vulnerable to weather conditions, and further illustrates how tourist attractions are constantly evolving as they seek to adapt to different circumstances every day. Conclusion As the aforementioned analysis has demonstrated, the Singapore Flyer is a tourist site that has ample strengths and opportunities that can be tapped on and further enhanced for the generation of revenue. These however, have to be carefully negotiated with the opportunity costs that may be incurred.

One should be cautious therefore that capital maximisation through the presentation of bite-sized touristy images is in fact an inauthentic re-appropriation of the “Singapore culture”. Such a phenomena, in the name of profit maximisation, threatens authenticity, where models of a real are without origin or reality: a hyperreal that sees the precession of simulacra(http://www. stanford. edu/class/history34q/readings/Baudrillard/Baudrillard_Simulacra. html), and an eventual threat to our identity as Singaporeans as we know it.

As consultants for the Singaporean tourism company in pursuit for profits, we therefore identify the strengths and opportunities of the Singapore Flyer. However, we also seek to highlight the weaknesses and threats that may impinge on the very authenticity and character of the Singaporean culture and identity.

REFERENCES

  • http://www. asiaone. com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20110407-272181. html
  • An authenticity projected onto toured objects by tourists or tourist producers in terms of their imagery, expectations, preferences, beliefs and powers (Wang, 1999:352)
  • http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Global_city
  • Managing director of Adval Brand Group Pte Ltd, the exclusive sales, marketing and ticket distribution agent of the Flyer
  • S$21 for a child; S$33 for an adult (Singapore Flyer, 2013)
  • Supported by our survey results where majority of survey respondents regarded themselves as belonging to the middle and upper-middle income strata.
  • Our survey results showed that visitors to the Flyer were mostly overseas tourists who hailed from places like India, England, New Zealand, China and Korea.
Singapore Flyer essay

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