LEE YI SHYAN: S’POREANS MUST DO MORE TO ATTRACT MORE PRC TOURISTS

As the world all over spews out horror stories of misbehaving PRC tourists, Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry is doing the exact opposite – it has asked Singaporeans and companies to do more to attract more PRC tourists.

Speaking at a fund raising event organized by the Singapore Cruise Center, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, said that Singaporeans need to customize their offerings to cater to tourists from China.

Hotels, food and beverage outlets, and other related establishments should, for instance, have employees who can speak Mandarin and recommend places of interest.

Mr Lee said: “Last year, Chinese outbound tourists were around 110 million and we attracted less than two million. Obviously, we are missing quite a bit of the action. The high-end segment of Chinese tourists really have many choices and we have to work very hard in capturing the growth.”

Last year, there were about 1.7 million tourist arrivals from China, about 24 per cent lower than in the year before.

In all, 15.1 million tourists visited Singapore last year, a 3 per cent drop from the year before. It was the first time since 2009 that there had been a decline.

But netizens have come out strongly in protest against Mr Lee’s ill-timed advice.

“Why are we only focusing on China? We should be focusing on the local region as well,” said one netizen, Wayne. “Singapore is well connected to rich Asian neighbors like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Surely you know there are no lack of rich and well behaved tourists from those countries.”

One netizen, Nahira, an F&B staff, weighed in with bad experiences of her own. “Once I tried to explain to this China lady that she can’t bring her own food and drinks into our restaurant, but she acted like she didn’t understand me and simply just pushed her way into the restaurant. I looked at my manager and he gave me this ‘what can we do’ look. Their treatment of service staff and even other patrons is really quite bad.”

With PRC tourists receiving so much condemnation for their rude and sometimes outright bizarre antics worldwide, it remains to be seen whether Singaporeans will take up Mr Lee’s suggestion.

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