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Friday, Aug 30, 2002

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Singapore opens offices to lure Indian tourists

Ashwini Phadnis

NEW DELHI, Aug. 29

IN an effort to promote Singapore as a destination for all seasons and all reasons, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is to look at tapping diverse market segments including the senior citizens, groups and clubs. The move comes close on the heels of the Board opening marketing representative offices in the North and South to tap the latent tourist demand of the region.

In an interview to Business Line the STB's Regional Director, South and West Asia, Mr Vimal Harnal, said that the decision to open up new offices was paying dividends. "We have seen double-digit growth in tourist arrivals from the northern region. This is from places like Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab. The opening of the two offices has helped us focus more closely on the southern and northern markets," Mr Harnal said. STB opened an office in Delhi late last year and another in Chennai earlier this year.

However, Mr Harnal, felt that the bigger challenge before the Board was to ensure that tourists from India went to Singapore not only during the holiday season, but all through the year.

Besides, the Board is also organising educational tours for groups of mid and high-school children.

"The idea of these trips is to ensure that the students get a proper feel. So if there are a group of aviation students, a trip to Changi airport will be arranged where they will be shown behind the scene activity like how baggage is handled," Mr Harnal said.

When questioned on whether the Board would work only with Singapore Airlines (SIA) to promote Singapore as a tourist destination, Mr Harnal replied in the negative. "Our mandate is not to work with SIA alone although we work closely with them. But we need to work around any capacity constraint which may be faced by any airline. We can tie-up with all available partners who can provide the proper synergy to us," Mr Harnal said.

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