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A half-hour chat with Rachel Loh, Singapore Tourism Board’s regional director, and you understand what’s at the core of the country’s destination brand, “Passion Made Possible.” Loh gleefully talks about her city-state, gushing over its cuisine, its people, its unique neighborhoods, its multicultural offerings…and, of course, its over-the-top airport. What’s more, Singaporeans, Loh stresses, are eager and happy to share this passion they have for their destination with the world.

In 2017, when Singapore launched the new tagline, Loh says, “this whole thing about discovering your passion wasn’t very hip and we were sort of taking a gamble, but we knew it was time to celebrate the stories of our people and their passions.” For example, she says, Singaporeans are passionate about their food. “When we’re eating lunch,” she says, “toward the end of the meal, we’re asking what we’re going to have for dinner. The cuisine is so unique since we’re a migrant destination…Chinese, Malay, Indian. For example, Indians don’t typically have noodles in their cuisine, but in Singapore, one of the most iconic Indian dishes is made of fried noodles, because the Chinese eat a lot of noodles, but the Indian noodles are spicy since the Indians love their curry. Then the Chinese cuisine in Singapore is different from what you would get in China because they’ve incorporated the curries that the Indian migrants brought in.” She adds that “essentially, our food really tells the broader story of how multicultural we are.”

She points out that the new tagline has helped boost tourism numbers, but she’s quick to note what everyone is well aware of—that the “Crazy Rich Asians” movie made Singapore a star. “In terms of global awareness, that really helped us a lot, because essentially in the movie Singapore is one of the main characters. That really brought a lot of awareness.” She also notes that “we have direct flights from the U.S., and this past September Singapore Airlines launched nonstop Seattle to Singapore flights, and it’s doing really well.” So, she stresses, “we have lots of things to offer, there’s great connectivity, it’s easy to get to—it’s still more than 12 hours, but once you’re there you’re going to have a great time.”

Haji Lane Back Alley. (Photo credit: Singapore Tourism Board)

And after the great popularity of “Crazy Rich Asians,” is Singapore meeting travelers’ expectations? “We exceed their expectations,” Loh says. “I think we are able to deliver, because there are lots of unexpected things to discover.” She says that one of her favorite things to do in Singapore is take a Vespa tour, but visitors won’t be driving the Vespas, they’ll be in the sidecars discovering the hidden gems in the destination. “If you have that sort of adventure in you, you should make the trip,” she says.

Loh points out that for U.S. travelers the average length of stay is four to five days, and they combine it with other Asian destinations. “We have such a great airport,” she says, “and it’s a great jumping-off point to the rest of Southeast Asia and even broader destinations, to Japan, Korea, etc.”

The Little India neighborhood. (Photo credit: Singapore Tourism Board)

While in Singapore, recommend your clients explore the diverse neighborhoods—from Little India to Chinatown and Orchard Road; take in the diverse architecture such as shophouses and Art Deco gems; and celebrate the destination’s 50+ years of independence by taking a 1-day tour of the city-state’s famous historic sights. Of course, you can’t leave Singapore without doing some serious shopping, and one of the coolest places for that is in Haji Lane, considered the city-state’s “original indie neighborhood.” And what’s a visit to Singapore without a detour to Tiong Bahru, a district that’s both Singapore’s oldest housing estate and one of its most vibrant creative hubs and one replete with street art.

Six Senses Duxton’s Opium Suite Living Room.

Hotel News
Singapore has an array of swoon-worthy accommodation offerings, including the recently reopened and iconic Raffles Singapore, with 115 suites in nine distinct categories. There’s also the Six Senses Duxton, located in Tanjong Pagar and converted from a series of old trading houses, as well as the 138-room Six Senses Maxwell, restored from its original architecture as a series of heritage houses in Chinatown. Both hotels are within walking distance. Another option is the 157-room Capitol Kempinski, located in the heart of the cultural district with its own arcade, theater and piazza, as well as a handful of restaurants and bars. Other top options include The Barracks Hotel Sentosa, a former military outpost that exudes colonial charm, the adults-only, 193-room Outpost Sentosa, and the family-friendly, 606-room Village Hotel Sentosa. To come are the Singapore EDITION by Marriott, The Clan Hotel Singapore, and Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore.

The Barracks Hotel
The Barracks Hotel Sentosa’s Premier Room with Pool Access Patio.

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The Singapore Tourism Board has put an advisory on the Coronavirus on its website; for updates, click here.