Several decades ago, the country’s tagline was “Uniquely Singapore,” but, in 2010, the Singapore Tourism Board decided to rebrand and use “YourSingapore” (no space in between) because “it’s simple, inviting and can be understood everywhere.” The Tourism body says that the new tagline expresses what is unique about the country and conveys what tourists look for—a personal travel experience.
Officially known as the Republic of Singapore, it is also called The Lion City, and is closer to the equator than the Philippines is, which means, sweltering heat pervades longer there than it does here in our country.
Composed of 63 small islands, including the main island, the country covers an area of only 225 square miles, making it the smallest country among the ASEAN member nations, earning for itself an unofficial moniker, “The Red Dot,” among some global travelers.
But in spite of its size, Singapore received approximately 16.5 million tourists last year, way ahead of our less-than-six million arrivals for the same period, even if our country’s size is more than 2000 times bigger.
So what draws people to The Lion City? Its bustling business community brings people from all over the world to attend all kinds of conferences, trade expositions, conventions and all other MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) activities, the most lucrative sector of any country’s tourism trade.
The nation’s continuously expanding business networking with international partners has made it a glowing paragon of financial success in the region’s economic landscape. Such leadership is best visually symbolized by that humongous edifice that has replaced the Merlion as the country’s new tourism icon---the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Opened seven years ago, this 2,561-room, 20-hectare resort casino has a very large convention and exhibition center, a shopping mall with 170 premium brand stores, 80 restaurants and bars, a museum, two large theaters, a skating rink and the world’s largest atrium casino.
What gives this structure its iconic status is the design. Resting on top of the three tall buildings lined up in a row is a 340-meter-long SkyPark, which has a 150-meter-wide infinity swimming pool and a recreation area that can hold close to 4000 people. The view from up there is the most spectacular in the city, just as breathtaking as the view of the resort casino complex from the ground, the reason why Marina Bay Sands has easily become the new symbol of Singapore.
Moving on to another tourist attraction, it’s hard to believe that a firehouse could also be interesting for visitors. The 100-year-old Central Fire Station in Singapore, the oldest in the city, attracts them because it houses the Civil Defense Heritage Gallery, the official museum of the country’s Civil Defense Force. What adds charm to the building is its façade---red bricks with white plaster bands, a style that was very popular in the United Kingdom during the time of King Edward. This type of architecture is hard to come by these days, making this antique structure an interesting destination for curious tourists.
Very near the Marina Bay Sands is the 101-hectare nature park, Gardens By The Bay, part of the government’s strategy to make Singapore, not just a Garden City, but a “City In A Garden.” This beautifully designed green section in Central Singapore aims to improve the quality of life for the residents, as they enjoy the calming effect of the vibrant plant life, giving them a respite from the hustle and bustle of a progressive urban environment.
The awesome attractions inside Gardens By The Bay are the Supertree Grove, which is a cluster of futuristic, environmentally sustainable structures, and the Cloud Forest Dome, which has the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. A visit to Singapore will not be complete without a stopover at this relatively new tourist destination.
There are many other interesting places in Singapore, attractions that give it its unique charm. There’s Clarke Quay, a riverside colony of bars, restaurants, boutiques, and nightclubs that continuously attract the nation’s party animals. Of course, there’s also the 130-year old colonial-style Raffles Hotel, the chosen home of Queen Elizabeth, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and many other celebrities, when they visited. It has the best Singapore Sling. After all, it is where this cocktail drink was invented, and they have 130 years of experience in mixing it.
For those who prefer the beach life, there’s Sentosa, an island off the southern tip of the city-state. Here you will find beaches glistening in the daytime sun, theme parks, dining, golf, and, of course, shopping. The cable car ride is exhilarating and is a must.
All these and many more explain why this small nation continues to attract hordes of visitors from all over the world. And the best part about it is that they are all within easily accessible distance from each. It’s like being offered a tray of various delicacies, so many dazzling choices, yet, they’re all in one tray…and that is YourSingapore.
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