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Sustainability of Singapore as a Sports Tourism Hub Essay

1.Introduction
1.1.Purpose

To present an overview of the latest sporting developments in Singapore and evaluate Singapore’s sustainability in enhancing Singapore’s position as a sports tourism hub in Asia.

1.2.Objectives

-Discuss the recent infrastructures constructed for Singapore’s sporting industry -Identify recent initiatives by the Singapore Sports Council -Highlight key inaugural sporting events held recently

-Discuss the advantages of having Singapore as a sports tourism hub -Discuss limitations faced in the long run and some measures being taken -Determine Singapore’s sustainability in the long run

1.3.Definition
1.3.1.Sports Tourism (Higham, 2004)

All forms of active and passive involvement in sporting activity, participated in casually or in an organized way for non-commercial or business/ commercial reasons, that necessitate travel away from the home and work locality.

1.3.2.Sustainable Tourism (Higham, 2004)

Tourism which is in a form which can be maintained its viability in an area for an indefinite period of time.

1.4.Overview of Sports in Singapore

Singapore’s position in the regional sporting arena has been an area of consistent improvements over the years. The outstanding performance from our aspiring young athletes during the Asian Youth Games in 2009, clinching a 4th on the medal tally further proved Singapore’s prowess in sports in this region. With several state-of-the-art sports facilities and structures being constructed in the region, Singapore has been keeping itself up to date with the sports in the region and providing venues for such activities. The upcoming major summer games, Youth Olympic Games 2010 (YOG 2010) will be held in Singapore as well, with examples of infrastructural and government support examined in the report.

1.5.Method of Investigation

This report is an assessment of research gathered through magazines, official and government websites, annual reports, news articles and books on sports tourism till 9th February 2010. An email correspondence had also been established with Ms Rachel Chan, a staff of HiVelocity who are the organisers for local events like Sundown Marathon, Aviva Ironman 70.3 and Men’s Health Urbanathlon.

2.Local Sports Tourism
2.1.Latest Infrastructure Developments

2.1.1.Tampines Bike Trail

Constructed in 2007, the 60-hectare trail will be used for BMX and Mountain Bike (MTB) during the Youth Olympic Games. It has been recently upgraded to make it more technically challenging. Since then, it has hosted several regional MTB events like the Phat Tyre Sunday Mountain Bike Race, Bike Asia 100 and the Eneloop Mountain Bike Carnival.

2.1.2.Singapore Turf Club (STC)

At its new location next to Kranji MRT Station, the STC is an exemplary architectural centrepiece of a racecourse, with a roof structure inspired by a horse in motion. It houses several grandstands with exclusive and unobstructed viewing for public, privileged cardholders and invited guests. With a range of F&B, viewing galleries and event rooms, the STC is capable of holding large scale equestrian events.

2.1.3.Marina Reservoir

The Marina Reservoir, opened in Nov 1 2008, was part of Singapore’s plan in diversifying its water supply by recycling waste water and desalinating sea-water. Being the largest reservoir, it is able to host a variety of water sports including rowing and canoe-kayaking with the Gardens by the Bay; a new park next to the reservoir providing an excellent vantage point.

2.2.Recent Initiatives

SSC has recently launched a nationwide movement called “Let’s Play”. It encourages all Singaporeans to be involved in sports in all ways, emphasizing on increasing the ease of involving oneself in sports through playing, cheering or volunteering.

The SSC had also launched collaborated with the URA to construct more public parks, park connectors, open communal areas and exercise corners to encourage exercise locally. The implementation of the Dual-Use Scheme, which opens school fields to the public and the opening of Singapore’s largest integrated complex in Jurong West with sports facilities and instructional courses complete with retail and food outlets are also part of SSC’s efforts to go all out in making citizens live healthily.

The establishment of an online lifestyle interactive portal; singaporesports.sg on 6th May 2008 aims to entertain, inform and educates. With a calendar of sporting events, forums, blogs, news on the local and international sports scene, volunteering opportunities as well as a membership system to enjoy discounts and offers at partner establishments.

2.3.Sporting Events

2.3.1.Asian Youth Games

The inaugural Asian Youth Games was held in Singapore between 29 June 2009 and 7 July 2009. It has attracted about 1,300 top juniors, aged 14-17 from 45 National Olympic Councils competing in 9 sports with the aims to build good relations within the Asian community. 1,100 participants were housed in the Games Village at Swissotel The Stamford which is centrally located. Organised by Singapore Sports Council and Ministry of Education, there is indeed strong funding and support from the government for this event. The event venues for the 9 sports have also been selectively chosen for their standards. However, the Games were impended by the cloud of the H1N1 influenza which had infected members of the Hong Kong and Philippines football team. Stringent measures were taken by the Olympic Council Asia to ensure early identification and isolation.

2.3.2.Aviva Ironman Triathlon 70.3

The Ironman triathlon was founded in 1978, with the half-ironman distance of 70.3 miles introduced in 2006. The Singapore version was formed in 2007 which was also a qualifying event for the Foster Grant Ironman World Championships in Clearwater Florida USA. This was an incentive for elite and aspiring elites to come to compete in this race. Since then, several veteran and uprising world champions have been featured in Singapore’s version. In the recent 2009 series, 45% of the 1,500 participants were foreigners with high spending power as proven by the race fees of about $375 per registration.

2.3.3.Men’s Health Urbanathlon (MHU)

On the 31st January 2010, 1,500 participants gathered at Marina Square for the inaugural Singapore edition of MHU which saw participants completing 8 obstacles over a distance of 12.5km. First held in Chicago and in Britain, the novelty of this race emphasises on the one of a kind obstacles in an urban setting. 19% of the participants were foreigners.

3.Singapore as a Sports hub
3.1.Advantages

3.1.1.Increased arrivals

The direct beneficiaries of this effect include airlines, hotels, food and beverage establishments, tour agencies and the organisers of the race itself. In addition to this, the accompanying families of participants generate revenue through shopping and spending leisure time at tourist attractions. Overseas sponsors and media representatives are also invited to grace the event with their presence and more money would be spent attending to their comfort and enjoyment. Maintenance and repairs of equipment are in demand, with foreigners more willing to spend on purchasing of spare parts and quick fixes.

3.1.2.Increase direct media presence and popularity

During major events like the Youth Olympic Games 2010 and Formula 1 Grand Prix, there would be increased media coverage and international focus. Live or replayed telecasts would show emphasis on the race in progress, with the skyline and background infrastructure gaining attention apart from the race.

During the 2008 F1 Grand Prix, the line up in the circuit park included entertainment from Zouk DJs, Bob Marley’s Wailers, Dim Sum Dollies and the Coyote Ugly girls, accompanied by established F&B food stalls. Trees around the circuit park were used as part of a visual art project called Humanature. All these were done to maximise spectator experience, in turn projecting Singapore in a positive light on the world stage, with the skyscrapers of the city in the background, and eye catching structures like the Esplanade standing out. All these would invigorate the viewers’ senses whether watching overseas or on site and might increase interest to visit Singapore to see these attractions.

3.2.Limitations

3.2.1.Land Scarcity

Scarcity of land and other resources has been a constant challenge faced by Singapore. Therefore Singapore has always placed emphasis on sustainable development and land-use. Ways of optimising the use of natural resources include sourcing for alternative usages for materials or facilities.

An example of the land with multiple uses would be the International Convention Centre at Suntec City Singapore. This multi-purpose indoor convention and exhibition centre has hosted the many huge events and meetings. It would also be used for several sports like boxing, fencing, handball, judo, taekwondo and wrestling during the Youth Olympic Games.

However, the challenge would be maximising the potential of land space for multiple land-use in the future, to enhance the potential for larger events to take place in Singapore.

3.2.2.Lack of manpower

Volunteers, performers, cheerleaders, referees are some of the essential roles needed to be filled for a sporting event on a big scale to be successful. In Singapore, the Ministry of Education is supporting schools to change curriculum times or test schedules during the Youth Olympic Games. A twinning programme has also been created to pair schools up with the different countries participating in the Games, to learn more about the country and hosting them when they arrive.

These activities and initiatives would definitely ease the organisers’ job in integrating the overseas participants into the community and give students a chance of making new friends and learning about different cultures. Students would also be encouraged to volunteer themselves in the event and be excited of being part of it.

3.2.3.Global Financial Crisis

The recent economy crisis had caught the world by surprise and resulted in the weakening of economies, Singapore was affected as well. However, good corporate governance and foresightedness had led to the quick rebound of the economy. However as construction costs had surged during the crisis, SSC’s plan of building a sports hub by 2010 to 2015. As such, Singapore is unable to host the 2013 Southeast Asian Games as initially planned.

3.3.Sustainability

Sports tourism has been identified as a fast growing industry, with new sports and games being created and flourishing over the recent years. With its current collection of world class sporting venues, Singapore is indeed suitable for hosting large sporting events, logistically and socially providing support.

The government has been supportive throughout the organisation of sporting events, with the Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports being particularly involved in events like Asian Youth Games and Youth YOG 2010. He has been a part of several initiatives, like the collaboration with ITE to provide customised volunteer training for YOG 2010, the MindChamps Youth Athlete 3- Days Programme sponsored by Singapore Sports Council for the 100 local athletes at $2,800 per student.

Sponsorship has been very successful for the Youth Olympic Games 2010, with Samsung recently announcing its sponsorship of 5,000 smart phones for athletes and officials. With 21 domestic sponsors and 9 international sponsors as of 6th Feb 2010, Singapore has proven its reliability and capability and gained the sponsors trust.

More importantly, Singapore has been able to foresee challenges faced ahead and plan for its future. The Urban Redevelopment Authority has successfully planned for the use of the city as a circuit for the Formula 1 Grand Prix race track. This feat would not be possible without dedicated research and continuous improvement after each year. Since then, the track has been used for events like Run Singapore 2009 and the upcoming Chingay Parade Singapore 2010.

The Marina Reservoir has further proven URA”s capability and commitment to sustainable development. With the construction of the barrage, the Marina Reservoir is now the 15th water catchment area and the largest thus far. Not only will Singapore be less reliant on other countries for water, more activities like dragon boating and power boating previously unsuitable could now be conducted there.

However, the Singapore Sports Council has not fulfilled some of its promises made, like the construction of the Sports Hub and Changi Race Track , initially scheduled to be completed, had been delayed due to rising construction costs and lack of finance. This inconsistency on the government’s part had led to losing the chance of hosting the 2013 SEA Games.

As the sporting scene evolves with speciality and novelty events like the Aviva Ironman 70.3 and Men’s Health Urbanathlon, space and support has to be given to encourage organisers to increase its capacity. The past 3 editions of Aviva Ironman 70.3 had their registrations capped at 1,500 and a full
participation for all years, with 45% of participants being foreigners in the 2009 edition. More locations has been added to the list, with the approval of more road closures like the East Coast Parkway Expressway and the Ayer Rajah Expressway during the cycling leg of Aviva Ironman 70.3 in 2008 and the usage of the urban setting in the city for the Urbanathlon.

4.Conclusion

Singapore, strategically located within South-East Asia and surrounded by sea, has established a good reputation as being easily accessible and suitable for business dealings and trade. With a high standard of living and a socially responsible government, Singapore has managed to remain competitive through changing times and braved though health threats and economic crisis. The government has been keeping the nation increasingly involved in sporting events and keeping the infrastructure in Singapore suited to the needs of specific sports and with multiple uses. The recent events hosted in Singapore include the F1 Grand Prix, Asian Youth Games 2009, Singapore Marathon and Aviva Ironman 70.3.

Each successful event held in Singapore, the publicity and exposure to the global stage would propel Singapore as the destination to be for sports, business and leisure. Singapore’s position would be enhanced as a tourism hub, with world class athletes gathering for major events as well, attracting supporters from different countries. This would definitely enhance Singapore as a tourism destination with multiple offerings, with sports tourism adding on to the long list of available options.

The sustainability of Singapore’s sports tourism has thus far been successful with the efforts from the government and public sector, with various ministries working hand in hand through health threats and compromising with school’s schedules to make the students available during the YOG period. With the continuous effort and improved consistency of relevant agencies, sports tourism would be a potential market which would flourish in the near future.


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