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Singapore council expected to boost bilateral tourism

By T.S. Shankar

CHENNAI, FEB. 18. With Singapore welcoming 6,125,480 visitors in 2003, the formal launching of the Singapore Tourism Board's (STB) Marketing Advisory Council (India) in Goa on February 21 by the Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry, George Yeo, is poised to provide a big push to bilateral tourism.

With Indonesia, China, and Malaysia still remaining Singapore's top markets, accounting for 43 per cent of visitor arrivals in December 2003, the visit by Mr. Yeo along with a high-level delegation of Ministry and the STB between February 18 and 21, comes as a shot in the arm for strengthening the tourism cooperation between the two countries.

The STB hopes to combine the attraction of Singapore as a key aviation hub with India's rich historical and cultural heritage to woo more tourists from common source markets such as Southeast Asia, China, Europe, and the United States.

In Chennai, Mr.Yeo and Chian, Lim Neo, STB Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive, will formally declare open a Singapore Visitors Centre on February 23 at Isphani Centre, Nungambakkam, second of its kind in India. Bridget Goh, who will be the Area Director based in Chennai, will cover Southern and Eastern India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The visit of the Singapore delegation to India is also expected to give a big push to air connectivity. The Singapore Airlines (SIA) and its subsidiary, Silk Air, are now offering 41 flights a week between the two countries. In the summer schedule, SIA would enhance its frequency of operations to Bangalore and Mumbai, besides increasing the seat capacity of the Chennai service, replacing it with a larger version of Boeing 777.

Mr. Chian chairs the Marketing Advisory Council (India) and Ranjit Malkani, Chairman of Kuoni Travel Group (India), has been appointed the co-chair.

The Council's views will be sought on the Board's strategies for developing the Indian market.

"I welcome the STB's decision to form the Marketing Advisory Council for India. This reflects the growing importance of India as a fast developing and high potential market. Initiatives such as these will only strengthen the tourism cooperation between the two countries. Singapore welcomed more than 3,75,000 visitors from India in 2002. This represents an increase of 10.5 per cent increase compared to 2001," Mr.Malkani said.

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