Singapore ... the place for gigs
SINGAPORE, Sept 7 — When pop star Lady Gaga came to town in May, inbound travel agent Dominic Ong managed to secure concert tickets for several Indonesian visitors before the show sold out.
But travellers coming here for performances remain a “niche market”, with numbers at present too low to warrant more attention, said Ong, general manager of Star Holiday Mart. Only one out of 100 frequent independent travellers he encounters is keen on the arts, he notes.
Things may change if the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has its way. The agency wants to draw more tourists to live arts and entertainment events here and position the Republic as a Southeast Asian hub where “regional visitors can enjoy quality live performances that they cannot find in their own countries”, according to a tender document posted last month on Gebiz.
Tourists account for “a very small fraction of total ticketed attendance”, and existing statistics do not “pinpoint reasons behind low visitor demand” for arts and entertainment events, even though the document states that Singapore has the most vibrant sector within Southeast Asia, with more than 90 shows happening in any one day.
For a start, the STB is commissioning research into demand from Indonesian and Malaysian visitors as they are major markets that also constitute “a significant portion of repeat travellers”, said Ms Lynette Pang, STB executive director for arts and entertainment and F1 and sports.
The STB also intends to develop strategic partnerships with arts and entertainment businesses in Singapore to reach out to regional audiences, said the tender document.
The STB’s current efforts to draw tourists to live performances include local and overseas marketing efforts and the launch of TicketCube on Orchard Road last year, which aggregates four ticketing service providers including Gatecrash and Sistic.
Singapore drew 13.2 million visitors last year, but there are no official figures of tourists who attend arts and entertainment events. Spending in this area is captured in “sightseeing and entertainment” tourism receipts — which include gaming and entrance fees to nightspots and attractions, and totalled S$5.39 billion (RM13.4 billion) last year.
Star Holiday Mart’s Ong said more publicity was needed in target markets to raise awareness of arts and entertainment events here. It was difficult for inbound agents to promote events lasting for only a few days — the agents suffer losses if they were unable to sell all the tickets purchased, and faced a dilemma if they met robust demand but were unable to secure more tickets from the organisers, he said.
In its tender documents, the STB recognises that there is “a need for Singapore to offer differentiated and quality experiences that value adds to their itinerary” as visitors become “more discerning”.
Asked how music acts might tour other regional countries alongside Singapore, music lifestyle group Timbre’s co-founder, Danny Loong, felt the arts and entertainment offerings in Singapore were enough to draw visitors from the region — given that “it’s not just the concerts that they come here for”, but also the shopping, museums and food offerings.
Loong said Timbre’s events, such as its Rock and Roots festival and Beerfest Asia, had attracted travellers. For Beerfest, the company had worked closely with the STB to bring in trade visitors, he said.
Senior tourism lecturer Michael Chiam of Ngee Ann Polytechnic said compared with the past, performance venues in Singapore were now bigger and of international standard.
Arts and entertainment tourism was not well developed in the Asia-Pacific region in general, but there was potential for growth if suitable products were created and the markets developed, said Dr Chiam.
“When affluence goes up, people will slowly (turn to) the arts scene,” he said. “Let’s say they are tired of shopping, they’re tired of eating, arts will come (into the picture).” — Today