Responsible destinations with a clear-cut sustainability vision will succeed in attracting the next-generation traveller.

That was one of the key messages put forward by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) at the Singapore Reimagine Global Conversations (SRI GC) series, which was staged last month (January 22) at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Designed to spearhead top-level discussions among industry gamechangers on the revival and reimagination of the global tourism sector and at the same time, showcase how Singapore has reimagined itself through fresh and innovative experiences, the event shed the light on opportunities to reshape travel according to new trends and traveller behaviours.

“For example, based on findings from a report shared by WGSN, our data partner for SRI GC, there is a rise in travellers known as the ‘Mindful Explorers’ – those who are conscious of the environment and seek sustainable choices during their travel journeys”, explains Beverly Au Yong, Area Director Middle East, STB.

“Sustainability is now a top-of-mind concern for many travellers and as a responsible destination, Singapore is incorporating its sustainability vision into its tourism offerings to achieve its vision of becoming a City in Nature.”

The Singapore Green Plan 2030

STB has developed a destination sustainability strategy and roadmap for the tourism sector in line with the Singapore Green Plan 2030 (SGP30), with a focus on environmental sustainability and sustainable management.

Technology and urban design play a crucial role, according to Au Yong, which is why the SRI GC at Expo was titled ‘Reimagined Cities: Can cities leverage urban design and technology to attract the next generation traveller?’.

STB and its partners have already launched initiatives encompassing this ethos.

For example, the Singapore Hotel Association set up a Hotels Sustainability Committee to drive industry-wide adoption of sustainability practices and as a result, new and existing properties are minimising their environmental footprint across design, construction and operations, while enriching guest experiences with concepts such as farm-to-table dining and preserving their natural environment.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s resort island, Sentosa, aims to set new benchmarks as a globally recognised, certified sustainable tourism destination that is carbon-neutral by 2030.

“STB will also work towards positioning Singapore as a choice location for companies seeking to launch sustainable products and experiences, or to test-bed sustainable tourism solutions,” explains Au Yong.

“The smart use of technology is crucial to our efforts,” she adds, highlighting the STB’s Tourism Transformation Index (TXI) initiative – “a self-diagnostic tool for companies to understand where they are in their transformation efforts, providing targeted advice to companies to help them become future ready”.

The STB’s Singapore Tourism Accelerator programme has also helped to match good tech and sustainability solutions with tourism businesses. For example, local start-up Lumitics helped Millennium & Copthorne International Limited reduce food waste and lower costs through its solution, which combines AI, data analytics and image recognition software.

“Through these efforts, we hope to work towards making Singapore a sustainable urban destination, providing opportunities for companies to testbed their sustainable tourism solutions. The sustainability journey is a two- way conversation, where we will take into consideration feedback from the industry and learnings from destinations that have successfully implemented their sustainability strategies,” says Au Yong.

“Platforms such as SingapoReimagine Global Conversations enable us to spark new ideas, drive conversations and collaborations, and inspire action amongst global stakeholders to collectively reimagine tourism offerings in a new COVID-19 environment.”

Sustainability is Singapore’s future

Au Yong says Singapore businesses are also becoming “more innovative in incorporating sustainability into product development”, efforts that improve the city’s reputation globally as a sustainable, responsible travel destination.

She cites stand-out examples such as Pan Pacific Orchard being redeveloped into Pan Pacific Hotel Group’s first zero-waste hotel, introducing a rainwater harvesting system, a recyclable water system, and a compactor that turns food waste into compost to fertilise its sky gardens. “More than just a bustling metropolis, Singapore also boasts local farms providing sustainable food and produce, and restaurants offering farm-to-table dishes,” says Au Yong.

For example, SCALED by Ah Hua Kelong, Singapore’s first fish-farmer-owned restaurant, serves locally farmed seafood and Labyrinth, a Michelin- starred restaurant, known for its ‘new Singapore’ dining experience, sources 90 per cent of menu ingredients are from and around Singapore, thanks to its close relationship with local farmers, fishermen and fishery ports.

Initiatives such as these play a crucial role in positioning Singapore as a sustainable and innovative urban destination.

Singapore at Expo

Supporting its efforts, the Singapore Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai pays tribute to Singapore’s journey towards growth, sustainability and resilience, says Au Yong.

Titled ‘Nature. Nurture. Future.’, it presents “a microcosm of Singapore’s transformed landscape to visitors and reflects the nation’s vision of becoming a City in Nature with the smart integration of design, technology and nature”.

Designed to be a self-sufficient ecosystem to achieve net-zero energy during the six-month event period, the pavilion features a multi-layered, three-dimensional green space showcasing Singapore’s strengths and expertise, highlighting how the country continues to rise above its physical limitations to strive towards liveability, sustainability and resilience through innovative urban solutions.

Find out more

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