Star Wars, Disney-themed events to come to Singapore under Disney tie-up: STB

Star Wars, Disney-themed events to come to Singapore under Disney tie-up: STB
From right to left: Mr Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board; Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry); Mr Alex Baillie, Head of Marketing and Partnerships, The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia; accompanied by Stormtroopers and TIE Fighter Pilots on April 13, 2017. Photo: Singapore Tourist Board, Disney Southeast Asia
Also in the pipeline: plans to remake Orchard Road
Published: 10:15 AM, April 13, 2017
Updated: 11:06 AM, April 14, 2017

SINGAPORE — Star Wars fans can get to meet Chewbacca and Kylo Ren next month as these characters make their maiden appearance in South-east Asia as part of a three-year collaboration inked by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and The Walt Disney Company South-east Asia to bring a raft of Disney-related events and activities to the Republic.

Announced at the STB's annual Tourism Industry Conference on Thursday (April 13), this tie up, the first of its kind between Disney and a national tourism body in South-east Asia, is aimed at boosting the appeal Singapore's tourism offerings and attracting more visitors. Last year, tourism arrivals and receipts hit a record high of 16.4 million tourists who blew S$24.8 billion here. The target for this year is to grow visitors by between 0 and 2 per cent, and receipts by 1 to 4 per cent.

Starting with the Star Wars theme this year, Disney and STB will bring in Marvel-themed events next year and Disney Animation/Disney Pixar-themed events the year after.

STB chief executive Lionel Yeo said: "The multi-year activations will profile our attractions and precincts in Singapore, beginning with Gardens by the Bay for the Star Wars festival held in May."

They will also offer "offer plentiful opportunities for local event organisers and small and medium enterprises to grow their businesses and enhance their capabilities in world-class branded entertainment events”, he added.

On May 4, which is marked as Star Wars Day, the collaboration will kick off with a three-day festival at Gardens By The Bay. The gardens' Supertrees will be transformed into lightsabers, and it will be complemented with a light and music show. There will be character appearances and photo opportunities, with the event capping off with a themed night run and screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the race village.

More Star Wars-related events are in the pipelines for the second half of the year, and the STB said details will be released closer to the date.

In his speech, Trade and Industry (Industry) Minister S Iswaran also said the STB is working with the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Land Transport Authority as well as private sector partners on ways to remake Orchard Road. 

Near-term plans include activating parcels of state land and expanding the pedestrian mall through a progressive road reduction programme. In the longer term, the street may be fully pedestrianised to serve as a "multi-purpose space where diverse and larger-scale experiential concepts can be introduced," he added.

One upcoming project, announced on Thursday, was the launch of a Design Incubator — which will open by end-2018. It will be jointly developed by the STB, Spring Singapore and JTC. 

The Design Incubator, which will be managed and operated by local retail operator Naiise, will be situated at Orchard Green, opposite the Heeren, and is projected to run for 10 years. It will feature more than 40 local brands across a variety of products — from fashion, to furnishing, as well as souvenirs — on a rotational basis. 

The space will also feature working spaces — including private work studios, co-working spaces, photography studio and meeting rooms — for designers to work on their ideas.

The Orchard Green site was formerly the site of the 'Keepers' showcase, a pop-up store dedicated to local designers which ran for 16 months from 2014. The STB noted that the 'Keepers' showcase was warmly received by locals and tourists alike, with a large number surveyed indicating that they would like to see something similar in the long term. 

"For Singapore to own good brands and products, we need to build the capabilities of our local designers. With the Design Incubator, we will nurture Singapore’s design talent in a holistic manner – by equipping them with essential knowledge, exposure and business support to develop their brands into global ones," said Spring Singapore’s chief executive Poon Hong Yuen.

Other initiatives announced on Thursday to give the tourism sector a leg-up include a boost to the Kickstart Fund.

Launched in 2013 to support the creation and testing of events and lifestyle concepts with strong tourism potential, the fund has been increased by a further S$10 million. The grant cap will be pumped up to S$200,000, up from the current S$150,000. The agency will also support up to 70 per cent of qualifying costs, up from 50 per cent.

Past recipients of the fund include the Singapore Cocktail Festival, which will be holding its third edition this year; as well as Neon Lights, an outdoor music and arts festival which is also in its third run this year. 

To bring in more tourists from Indonesia, the Republic's top source market, the agency is also opening a regional tourism office in Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city and the Republic's second biggest source city after Jakarta.