Integrated resorts: Singapore's answer to destination competitiveness?

Lee, Derrick Choong Hiong (2016) Integrated resorts: Singapore's answer to destination competitiveness? PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Integrated resorts in the Singaporean context refer to a combination of entertainment, gambling and accommodation precincts providing a rich array of services to tourists on the one site. The principal objective of this thesis was to analyse the potential of the two large scale integrated resorts (IRs) in Singapore – Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa - to provide a sustainable competitive advantage to the country as a tourism destination. Three specific factors were explored to achieve this broad objective: stakeholder perceptions of the Singapore Tourism Board's strategy to develop IRs as key drivers of Destination Singapore; tourist perceptions of the IRs and their contributions to Singapore's tourist appeal; and local residents' perceptions of the two IRs and their impacts on the community.

The first study involved face-to-face interviews with 40 stakeholders from seven key sectors, including government, hotels, travel agents, airlines, business associates, attractions, and food and beverage operators. The stakeholders were asked about four key areas: perceptions of IRs and their success; Singapore's new brand image as a destination; stakeholder involvement in the planning and implementation of the IRs; and their long term view of Singapore as a tourist destination. Firstly, the respondents perceived the IRs as a unique and competitive tourism product given the increase in tourist arrivals and higher tourism receipts annually since 2010, but they were also concerned with the social costs such as higher crime rates and bankruptcies that might be associated with their component of casino gambling. Secondly, the respondents agreed that the IRs boosted Singapore's image as a shopping and high-end tourism destination, however, they were unsure if promoting casino tourism would enhance the overall destination brand image of the city-state. The stakeholders reported only a marginal role in terms of their participation in planning the Singapore experiment in IRled tourism development. Fourthly, and in the longer term, these respondents were concerned that if the government decides to issue additional licenses to new casino operators to enhance the appeal of Singapore as a gaming destination, such developments are believed to create more severe social problems. Findings from this study were consistent with the academic literature: successful tourism products should improve destination competitiveness, and also seek to enhance or certainly not damage the social well-being of a community.

For Study 2 survey questionnaires were distributed to international visitors in Singapore to investigate tourist perceptions of the two IRs. A total of 469 respondents participated in the survey and identified the perceptions and attitudes of tourists including the perceptions of tourist attractions in Singapore, perceptions of IRs and Singapore's destination image, images of Singapore as a tourism destination, views concerning the brand personality of Singapore compared with other destinations, and perceptions of the likely tourism landscape of Singapore in 2025. Findings from the survey indicated that the tourists rated Orchard Road, Sentosa, and then equally Clarke Quay and Gardens by the Bay, as the leading tourism attractions. The majority of the respondents viewed the two IRs favourably as they agreed that Singapore is a more appealing tourism destination with the IRs, and also that their visits to the IRs were consistent with their expectations of a Singaporean tourism experience. The respondents considered that Singapore was as a modern, cosmopolitan and cultural tourism destination. They also indicated that Singapore would be an appealing tourism setting in 2025 if the city-state were to be promoted as a 'garden city-showcasing sustainable urban living'. It could be acknowledged that the brand identity and image have to be attractive as well as consistent with the perceived brand image of tourists.

Finally, it was important to seek the perceptions of the local residents, as the literature has revealed that community support is a key concern for sustainable tourism developments such as the two IRs. In Study 3 a total of 35 diverse local residents participated in four focus group sessions and shared their perceptions and attitudes about the following issues: the reasons why Singapore is now attracting more tourists (including Mainland Chinese tourists), the effectiveness of the IRs as the tourism strategy for Singapore, the impact of the IRs on social capital, the advantages and disadvantages of promoting a casino tourism strategy, the effectiveness of the safeguard measures introduced by the government to prevent addictive gambling and other social costs, and finally the preferred future tourism landscape of Singapore. Findings from the focus group studies revealed that the respondents indicated a predominantly positive social representation of the IRs. In brief, local residents saw the IRs as an appealing tourism product. There was a positive awareness of the increase in tourist arrivals, especially the Mainland Chinese market, boosting higher tourism receipts and taxation revenue, and a view that additional employment opportunities had occurred. Additional findings included the outcome that local residents distinguished between the appeal of the two IRs - Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) is more appealing to families and friends, whereas the Marina Bay Sands caters more to the business tourist markets.

Taken together, the findings of the studies revealed widespread support for the Singapore experiment in boosting tourism through the development of the current Integrated Resorts. Business and government personnel, tourists and the local residents were all in broad agreement about the positive outcomes. There remain, however, some common views that current IR development involving the casino part of their operations might be less desirable with potentially negative social consequences. There was some support for a preferred future for Singaporean tourism through embellishing its image as a sustainable garden city supported by multiple new forms of tourist attractions.

Item ID: 46046
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: destination branding; integrated resorts; local resident views; perceptions; resorts; Singapore; stakeholders; tourism; tourist behaviour; tourist experience; tourist perceptions
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2016 04:16
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150606 Tourist Behaviour and Visitor Experience @ 50%
15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150699 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900302 Socio-Cultural Issues in Tourism @ 50%
90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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