Thursday 23 October 2014

Lonely Planet picks Singapore as top travel spot in 2015

By Melissa Lin, The Straits Times, 22 Oct 2014

GLOBAL travel company Lonely Planet has named Singapore the world's No. 1 country to visit next year, thanks to the line-up of events for its golden jubilee.

Its latest guidebook, Best In Travel 2015, published yesterday says that multicultural Singapore "is always celebrating something" and has more reason to when it turns 50 next year.

New attractions opening to coincide with the anniversary include the National Gallery Singapore, which will house art of 19th- and 20th-century Singapore and South-east Asia. The Singapore Sports Hub, which will host the 28th South-east Asia Games, will hold its official opening ceremony next year.

National Day, which falls on Aug 9, is expected to be "celebrated with ultra-extravagant fanfare", the popular guide said.

Best In Travel 2015 is Lonely Planet's 10th collection on top destinations, experiences and travel trends, curated by its staff, authors and contributors. The book is available in eight languages and is on sale in over 100 countries.

It is the first time Singapore has made it to any of the lists in the guidebook.

The book noted that new developments, such as Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay, have "elevated the 'Singapore experience' to a new level".

Hotels such as W Singapore, Parkroyal on Pickering and Sofitel So Singapore have also opened their doors recently.

Coming in second in the top 10 is Namibia, followed by Lithuania, Nicaragua and Ireland. The Republic of the Congo, Serbia, the Philippines, Saint Lucia and Morocco round up the list.

The top country for this year is football World Cup host Brazil.

Mr Chris Zeiher, Lonely Planet's sales and marketing director for the Asia-Pacific, said Singapore scored high on its three criteria - topicality, "wow" factor and broad appeal.

What made Singapore stand out was the fact that the city has put itself on the sporting calendar and has "quirky" attractions such as Gardens by the Bay, he said.

It has also nurtured its dining and fashion scene, he added.

Singapore Tourism Board assistant chief executive Lynette Pang said the board was humbled by the accolade. "It's a nice validation. But it's not going to change what we do, what our focus is on and how we do our work."

She added that the board will continue to place emphasis on quality tourism and work with the industry to grow new products and refresh old ones to cater to the discerning traveller.

Singapore named Destination of the Year at global cruise awards
By Melissa Lin, The Straits Times, 28 Oct 2014

SINGAPORE'S aspiration to be Asia's premier cruise hub has been given a boost.

A panel of experts across the global cruise industry picked Singapore as Destination of the Year, over contenders from the Mediterranean.

Singapore was selected for its work in promoting cruises not just within the country but also in the region, said Ms Mary Bond, editor of online cruise news site Seatrade Insider, which gave out the awards.

Through Asean, Singapore rallied the region to develop port infrastructure so that bigger ships can be deployed in the region, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said yesterday.

STB's assistant chief executive Neeta Lachmandas said the award "underscores our collaborative efforts in promoting our region as an attractive cruising destination".

Last year, Singapore facilitated a trade visit to the region for industry players to experience first- hand the latest cruise itineraries across Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The Republic is working with Asean on a monthly e-newsletter that will report on the latest cruise trends and developments in South-east Asia.

The Seatrade Insider Cruise Awards recognises achievements in the global cruise industry.

The awards for this year, the eighth edition, were given out in Barcelona, Spain, last month.

Singapore beat the Mediterranean's French Atlantic Ports and Cruise Net Hamburg to become the first Asian country to win the top destination award.

Ms Lachmandas said the regional cruise industry is still in the early stages of growth.

She added: "We hope that this award can motivate everyone to continue working towards our goal in making South-east Asia one of the world's foremost cruise destinations."

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