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Case Study: Singapore's Positioning as a Tourist Destination.

The city-state of Singapore has seen remarkable growth in tourism considering its
size and limited supply of cultural and natural resources. Such an achievement can
be attributed to a variety of factors, not the least being the heavy investment in
infrastructure and product development, and it is likely that marketing has made a
contribution as well. The subject of this case is the most recent promotion involving
a new brand entitled “Uniquely Singapore” and examines the initiative within the
framework of the country's destination branding and tourism development strategies.
Tourism in Singapore
Singapore was a British colony until it gained independence in 1965, and it is an
island of about 626 sq km, frequently referred to as a city-state. It is highly
industrialized and urbanized and has a population of over 4 million comprising
Chinese (75.6 per cent), Malays (13.6 per cent), Indians (7 per cent) and others like
Eurasians. Rapid economic progress and resultant prosperity have been credited to
the government of the People's Action Party, which has been in office since 1968.
Safety and security are selling points, and Changi Airport provides international
access by air. An interesting mix of attractions and activities is on offer related to
the colonial and wartime eras, multiculturalism and the ethnic quarters, parks and
gardens, the arts and food, shopping and other assorted events. Business travellers
of different types constitute a key segment, particularly those attending conferences,
and increasing emphasis is being devoted to healthcare tourism. Most visitors
originate within the region, although Europeans and Americans are sizeable markets,
and their average length of stay is comparatively short – for example, the duration
was 3.2 days in 2004.
Promoting Singapore
Singapore's distinct political system and the regime's intervention in many aspects
of life are regularly remarked upon. The constraints it has imposed are the subject of
censure from certain quarters, a chewing gum ban and fines for not flushing public
toilets being often quoted by the overseas media in more frivolous examples. It is
not the intention to explore the merits or otherwise of Singapore's political system
and the veracity of international reporting on it, but it should be recorded that there
has been some relaxation in regulations and there are signs of change as the second
generation of political leaders takes charge and society evolves. The labelling of
Singapore as “funky” in Time magazine, with a cover headlined “Singapore
swings,” was hailed as evidence of this shift and welcomed by the authorities. There
is, nevertheless, a tension between “meeting the demand for greater social freedom
and efforts to maintain social order,” the anticipated solution being “cautious steps
to extend social freedoms while ensuring that debate on purely political issues
remains largely out of bounds.” Putting such questions of politics aside, it can also
be observed that the distinctive conditions in Singapore have afforded advantages
such as security and efficiency with regard to the presentation of facets of destination
images likely to be attractive and reassuring to many tourists and investors.
However, they have also led to perceptions of Singapore as “staid, restrictive, boring,
conservative, too strict with nothing much to do on a tiny island” and an unexciting
vacation choice. Tourism marketers, thus, face the challenge of breaking through
what might be seen as misconceptions and convincing potential visitors of the wealth
of attractions and experiences to be found in Singapore. At the same time, the
shortage of space, the confined stock of traditional tourism resources and other
realities cannot be overlooked. Responses to the challenge are partly reflected in the
ways the Republic of Singapore has been promoted to overseas visitors, albeit with
a set of recurring motifs. An early marketing slogan was that of “Instant Asia,”
employed in the 1970s and suggesting that visitors could sample Asia's principal
cultures in multiracial Singapore. The theme gave way to that of “Surprising
Singapore” in the 1980s, and this promised a fascinating blend of the exotic oriental
and Western-style modernity. These characteristics were echoed in “New Asia –
Singapore,” which was introduced in the late 1990s and was perhaps the fullest
scale-branding campaign up to that point, disclosing how tourism officials wanted
the world to see late 20th-century Singapore. The brand personality was that of
cosmopolitan, youthful and vibrant modern Asia, with reliability and comfort and
designed to tell a “story of how a young nation emerged from an uncertain future to
become what it is today.” It spoke of a bold, visionary approach in revolutionizing
traditional ways of doing things and applying them successfully to the situations
generally faced. The intention was to propagate an image of a stimulating but well-
organized place with a distinctly Asian population who were sophisticated members
of a global society and where the visitor would feel safe. A strong destination brand
encompassing these messages is seen to generate economic gains, and tourism
branding is sometimes one element of a broader scheme by authorities that aspire to
position their locality or country and present it to the world as an excellent venue for
all kinds of business. Considerable resources are being invested in these initiatives
and consultants employed to proffer expensive advice, resulting in campaigns of
varying degrees of sophistication and impact. However, success is not easy to attain
or measure. As previously noted, destinations are unusual entities, and their
characteristics and complexities may defy productive efforts at branding. The
imperative of re-branding, observable in business generally, can lead to brand
fatigue or confusion if conducted regularly and could be an inefficient use of scarce
resources. In addition to spending on marketing, heavy investment in an enhanced
tourism infrastructure and attractions could be necessary if the visions conveyed and
the expectations inspired are to correspond with the realities of visitor experiences.
Commitment is demanded from all those involved in order to deliver the promises
of the brand, and branding is perhaps best attempted as part of a long-term plan that
provides strategic direction to the tourism industry. The tendency towards
convergence and similarities in brands and supporting campaigns, possibly
encouraged by a common stance and mode of operation among consultants, is also
to be guarded against. Brands are launched with great enthusiasm, but energy must
also be devoted to monitoring and evaluation to permit properly informed judgments
about outcomes. These represent daunting challenges and suggest that there are
certain disadvantages to destination branding which must be acknowledged to ensure
a balanced debate on the subject of its merits and contribution to tourism marketing.`

Case Study: Medical Tourism in India

India is one of the leading countries for ‘medical tourism', and it is a popular choice
for patients from Western countries for cheap and quality medical services. This
holds true for Indian patients also as they travel far for a reliable medical facility.
India's national health policy declares that treatment of foreign patients is legally an
“export” and deemed “eligible for all fiscal incentives extended to export earnings.”
Government and private-sector studies estimate that medical tourism to India is
growing by 30 per cent a year, and this could bring between US$ 1 billion and $ 2
billion into the country by 2012. India's top-rated education system is churning out
not only computer programmers and engineers but also an estimated 20,000 to
30,000 doctors and nurses each year.

The largest of the estimated half-dozen medical corporations in India serving


medical tourists is Apollo Hospital Enterprises, which treated an estimated 60,000
patients between 2001 and spring 2004. It is Apollo that is aggressively moving into
medical outsourcing. Apollo already provides overnight computer services for U.S.
insurance companies and hospitals and is also working with big pharmaceutical
corporations on drug trials.

Apollo's business began to grow in the 1990s, with the deregulation of the Indian
economy, which drastically cut the bureaucratic barriers to expansion and made it
easier to import the most modern medical equipment. The first patients were Indian
expatriates who returned home for treatment; major investment houses followed
with money, and then patients from Europe, the Middle East and Canada began to
arrive. Apollo now has 37 hospitals, with about 7,000 beds. The company is in
partnership with hospitals in Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Nigeria. One more popular
destination is Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore. These hospitals attract not
only foreigners, but also Indian patients, especially from the eastern and north
eastern parts of the country. As the food habits in South India – where these hospitals
are situated – are quite different from those in other parts of the country, some
restaurants have come up in the vicinity of the hospitals to cater to food choices of
the relatives of patients. There are cheap hotels available nearby so that patients'
relatives can stay. Western patients usually get a package deal that includes flights,
transfers, hotels, treatment and often, a post-operative vacation from the various tour
operators, whereas there is nothing such as a package for Indian patients till now.