Asia marketing and innovation strategy –

An interactive Asia B2B marketing and growth strategy blog from to discuss ideas, thoughts and spread the "Growth & Innovation Gospel" across Asia

Turning Singapore into an innovative tourism hub

Singapore has ambitious plans to attract 17 millions tourist a year and to generate S$ 30 Billions in tourism revenue by 2015. Like most things in Singapore, this is a well-crafted plan within reach. To reach 12 millions tourists a year will be fairly easy. The last 5 millions might prove to be harder to convince to visit the island. They will likely live further than SE Asia and will compare Singapore’s tourist offer with the likes of global cities.

However instead of trying to benchmark itself with other successful tourism spots, the lion state is at risk to too often copy what has already been done elsewhere in Asia. The approach works in the short term, but the “me-too ++” course of action may not deliver sustainable tourism growth into Singapore.

There is plenty of good tourism infrastructure and initiatives in Singapore, but are there really that new and innovative enough for Singapore to climb amongst favorite global tourism spot ?

  • The Integrated Resorts / Casinos are a right first step but ultimately Macao will probably win the gambling / MICE business in Asia.
  • The Singapore Grand Prix makes a nice global PR splash but there already are a few Grand Prix in the region (to be fair none are a night race).
  • The Singapore Ferris wheel illuminates the Singapore night sky but forgive me for saying that it is kind of déjà vu.
  • Clark Quay is surely a nice hang-out place. Can it really rival Lan Kwai Fong and Shibuya’s global notoriety?
  • The Singapore Sale is good for…mostly Singaporeans. Same mega sales  campaign exists in all key Asian cities.
  • The Singapore zoo is a marvel, but the city lacks a truly international aquarium landmark.
  • The only Singapore ‘entertainment park’ is a tiny and humble Downtown East, a place tourists will hardly visit.

The list goes on…

Singapore needs to think beyond borders and beyond benchmarking with its neighbors… It needs to be bold and innovate. Bring a whole different feel, look and service offer to the city.

Here is list of tourism initiatives Singapore could do to dramatically change the tourism dynamics in the region. With an open mind, some cash and goodwill these are all feasible in Singapore. The proof is in the pudding, these ideas below have already been successfully tested and implemented elsewhere for about 20 years (remember things dont have to be new to be innovative!).

24h of music in Singapore?

France inaugurated in 1982 this free for all 24h of music where musicians  perform for free in public places usually inaccessible to any musicians and all the concerts are free for the public. Expect each city corner to come alive for 24h non stop with opera singers, hip hop artists, violin quartets, African drums, Punk Rock, Folk songs, Vietnamese Dan Bao, solo guitarists, experimental music, DJs, and many others. The event has been adopted by a staggering 100 other cities worldwide as a massive tourism magnet. Official Fete de la Musique website (in English):

Can we hope for 24h non stop of free amateur music in Singapore soon?

A Techno / Love Parade in  Singapore?

The Techno / Love Parade was inaugurated in Berlin in 1989 and has since then spread its wings across the world. A free outdoor techno music event with people dancing day time on the streets. The 2008 event planed for 19 of July will have 700 DJs, attract 1.2M party-goes and will generate over SGD 230M of tourism revenue. Singapore already has Ministry of Sound (a partner of the Love Parade) and Zoukout (used to organize large party events). Let’s bring the SGD 50 per entry ticket Sentosa-restricted party to the city for free. Singapore has the Chingay parade (no comments…), it can easily do without or merge the two events if it hopes to bring in 1 million party goers. Official Love Parade website (in English):

A Singapore Love Parade could bring S$ 80-100 millions in tourism revenues

Car-free Christmas shopping in Singapore?

Despite some magic, this is still missing in Singapore. Windows are near-sad and surely not different enough from whatever else is presented off-peak commercial season with the exception of a few fake snow flakes glued on the window. Christmas magic is missing. Let’s not forget that Singapore needs to compete with an equally attractive Asian location over Christmas. Besides enjoying a cooler weather at the same time, Hong Kong is dressing up all its water-front buildings on Hong Kong Island with millions of lights. Standing on Kowloon and watching the skyscrapers illuminating the sky with multiple colors and rays is certainly as magic, if not more, than a stroll on Orchard Road during Christmas.
Orchard Road needs to be different, creative and innovative. It needs to invest into delivering the best Christmas windows in Asia a la New York and Paris. It seems to apparently be only a small thing, but guess where kids and parents would be taking their Christmas pictures…
To complete a complete unique positioning most of Orchard Road (starting from the ERP gantries) should be closed up from 22 to 24th December allowing walkers to take back their cities from car addicts and allowing temporary shops and Christmas animations to be placed on Orchard road itself.
Then, and only then, Orchard Road will have narrowed the retail magic gap separating it from being amongst the best shopping avenues in the world.

Singapore needs to improve its Christmas shopping experience beyond street lights

Temporary art – Singapore’s Merlion to be wrapped in pink drapes?

Christo and Jeanne-Claude  are a married couple who create environmental installation art. Their works include the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris, the 24-mile-long curtain called Running Fence in Marin and Sonoma counties in California, and most recently The Gates in New York City’s Central Park.
Because their work is visually impressive and often controversial as a result of its scale, the work always get massive global press coverage and huge amount of tourist.
Most global cities have had something wrapped. Could we wrap the Singapore Merlion, or the Fullerton Hotel ? More recently Olafur Eliasson’s waterfalls on exhibit along the East River in New York, including one underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. This is a follow-up to Christo’s Gates project in Central Park back in 2005 which, depending on the source, reportedly generated anything from $100 to $200 million in visitor spending. Official website Christo and Jeanne-Claude website:

USD 55 millions of tourism revenues expected from the temporary New York city waterfalls.  Singapore would benefit from same temporary art

Mega open air city concert – Will Jean Michel Jarre ever play in Singapore?

Put Singapore on the map with a mega concert recorded on CD and DVD.  22 years ago in 1986, NASA and the city of Houston asked Jean Michel Jarre to do an open concert to celebrate NASA’s 25th anniversary and the city of Houston’s 150th anniversary. The artist used the city’s skyline as his The Houston concert entered the Guinness Book of Records for the audience of over 1.5 million (in 1990 Jean Michel Jarre hosted a concert with 2.5 million people in Paris).  2009, imagine a  mega concert  recorded live on Marina Bay for the opening of Singapore’s first Casino with 1 million audience in the background… If the French can pull it of, Singapore’s renown surgical-like organization should be able to make this a once a lifetime global event.  Jean Michel Jarre official website:

Imagine the business ramification of having such mega concert in Singapore, taped on DVD and sold throughout the world. See the effect on Houston 20 years ago… (part 1 and 2), people still speak about it today!

With these few initiatives in place, Singapore will have no issues to easily attract 17 million tourists in town.

Damien Duhamel


About Solidiance

Summary: Corporate strategist with extensive Asia-based management & operational experience. Manages the long-term strategic planning of the organization. Responsible for multi-country team management, PBIT and revenue growth, geographical expansion, business development, key staff recruitment, business unit strategy and processes. Speaks English, French, Vietnamese and "Survival" Japanese. In Asia Pacific for the past 21 years. Specialties: Disruptive innovation strategy & implementation, Expansion strategy, Benchmarking, Asia market entry strategy, Market research Asia, Market sizing, opportunity analysis & market feasibility, Sales & demand forecasting, Competitive intelligence and strategy, Customers acquisition & loyalty, New product development, Distribution & value-chain optimization, Industrial B2B branding, Partner evaluation & selection, M&A due diligence - valuation, Marketing & Corporate strategy, Emerging markets

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