Would we now expect to see an increased number of tourists from India to Pulau Ubin?
Great film! Now let's visit Singapore
Visitor numbers from India up by 24%, even as S'pore courts Bollywood, film fans
7 November 2005
By Jasmine Yin
WHAT Winter Sonata did for South Korea, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) hopes Bollywood blockbusters like Krrish will do for Singapore.
If the board gets its way, fans of the upcoming flick will flock to Singapore to re-live the sights and sounds their movie idols experienced here. About 60 per cent of the film — which is directed by Rakesh Roshan and stars Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra — is currently being shot in Singapore.
Local attractions featured include the Singapore Zoo, Changi Airport, the Esplanade, Clifford Pier, Chinatown, Pulau Ubin and Orchard Road.
Krrish is the first Indian mega movie to be shot under STB's $10-million Film in Singapore! Scheme, launched last May to generate more awareness of Singapore in STB's key target markets.
The scheme, which will disburse the $10 million over three years, will subsidise up to half of the expenses incurred by international film companies during their shoots here.
"India is among Singapore's top 10 visitor-generating markets … (and) promises great potential to the tourism sector. The Indian film industry is also one of the most dynamic, prolific and illustrious in the world and has a wide international reach beyond India," STB's brand management director Bill Ang told Today.
"We are always keen to work with quality productions which are aired in our key target markets and which showcase Singapore as a fun and unique destination."
Latest statistics from STB show that visitor arrivals from India grew by 24 per cent for the month of September, as compared to last year.
The top five visitor-generating markets for September were Indonesia, China, Australia, Japan and Malaysia.
Mr Ang said that several film companies in various overseas markets have indicated strong interest in the scheme. So far, STB has approved nine projects, with a few more under evaluation.
These projects, which must showcase Singapore in positive light, are for distribution in Europe, China, India and South-east Asia.
STB has previously worked with major international networks like MTV, CNN and National Geographic to create programmes that build awareness of Singapore as an attractive destination. Its regional offices have also collaborated with national networks in their respective countries, such as China's Sun TV and India's Zee TV, on programmes such as travelogues and game shows.
Using entertainment culture to attract tourists is not a strategy unique to Singapore. One needs only to turn to South Korea to witness the phenomenal effects that its entertainment stars, who are fervently embraced across the region, have had on its tourism industry.
Popular culture has become big business in South Korea, with more than 100 million followers in Asia of its programmes and music, and a fast-growing cultural industry worth $122 million last year.
Tour packages themed around its popular dramas, such as Winter Sonata, were snapped up by avid fans flocking to visit these filming locations. Tourist arrivals increased by more than 40 per cent in the first eight months of last year, as compared to the same period in 2003.
When asked to assess the impact of STB's one-year-old film scheme, Mr Ang said it was "still too early" to determine the impact on Singapore's image as a destination because some of these projects have either just completed filming or are still in the production stage.
He added: "Our officers in international officers are always on the look-out for opportunities to attract film-makers to Singapore and have been actively meeting up with the film industry in their respective markets to share the scheme with film-makers and producers."
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