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The Changing Role of Tourism Policy in Singapore's Cultural Development: From Explicit to Insidious

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In the last three decades, Singapore has transformed from a cultural desert to a global arts city, thanks significantly to tourism. The Singapore Tourism Board was proactively shaping the cultural dynamics and policy of Singapore until 2012. But since then its official role in the country's arts and cultural development almost disappeared. The disappearance of tourism interests in cultural development stems apparently from years of resistance, dialogues, and negotiation. This study argues that the tourism authorities are still maintaining influence in the cultural dynamics and development of Singapore by reframing its involvement. It insidiously asserts its influence by enticing members of the arts community with resources, opportunities, and economic support to participate in the tourism industry. This article provides a dialogical understanding of how tourism has shaped Singapore's cultural dynamics. Cultural dynamics and tourism development in Singapore must be understood within economic and social engineering perimeters defined by the government. The tourism authorities do not only work with other government authorities, they use similar techniques in managing and controlling cultural development in the city-state. The Bakhtinian Dialogic Imagination is the heuristic that organizes and structures the complex and dynamic tourism–culture relations in this study. Three dialogical concepts—carnivalesque, heteroglossia, and polyphony—are used. Besides documenting the ongoing evolution of tourism in the cultural development of Singapore, this study questions the effectiveness of the arm's length approach to managing cultural development. The Singapore case shows that there are subtle economic and political ways to go round that principle.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 27, 2019

This article was made available online on April 16, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "CHANGING ROLE OF TOURISM POLICY IN SINGAPORE’S CULTURAL DYNAMICS AND DEVELOPMENT: FROM EXPLICIT TO INSIDIOUS".

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  • Tourism, Culture & Communication is international in its scope and will place no restrictions upon the range of cultural identities covered, other than the need to relate to tourism and hospitality. The Journal seeks to provide interdisciplinary perspectives in areas of interest that may branch away from traditionally recognized national and indigenous cultures, for example, cultural attitudes toward the management of tourists with disabilities, gender aspects of tourism, sport tourism, or age-specific tourism.
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