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Regionalism and tourism: exploring integral links in Singapore

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Traditionally, tourism development in Singapore involves creating and promoting tourist attractions to lure inbound visitors. Today in the 1990s the focus is on regional tourism, and Singapore is being developed as a ‘tourism capital’ and a hubbing centre for visitors travelling to and within Asia. Tourism development now has a regional focus and tourism enterprises are being encouraged to invest in overseas projects in the Asia Pacific. This paper explores Singapore’s forays into regional tourism. Specifically, it argues that ‘regionalisation’ and tourism enjoy a mutually reinforcing relationship. This means that regionalism provides an avenue for the tourism industry to expand and, conversely, the tourist industry provides an opportunity for Singapore to regionalise its economy. The turn towards regionalisation hints at local problems faced by Singapore’s maturing economy as a whole and its tourism industry in particular. Such local problems include: geographic constraints of site and the lack of natural attractions; limited market and investment opportunities within Singapore; increasingly sophisticated leisure needs of Singaporeans; and strategic concerns for political survival. ‘Tourism regionalisation’ helps to circumvent both real and perceived problems but this paper also warns that many challenges and difficulties will be faced even as Singapore’s regional economy takes root.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8373.00054

Affiliations: Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260. geoctc@nus.edu.sg

Publication date: December 1, 1998

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