Tuesday, 26 March 2013

And A River Runs Through It

It is only fitting that a country that relies so much on its rivers and waterways should have a new exhibit -  the River Safari.

Due to open in a week's time, the River Safari will be a companion attraction to the much-loved Night Safari and will link it with the Singapore Zoo.  There are eight distinctive freshwater habits portrayed in 69 exhibits; all of which the public will be able to enjoy.

The undoubted hit in the new Safari will be the Giant Panda Forest, the largest panda exhibit in South East Asia.  It features the giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia which were gifted by China to Singapore.

Quite apart from the tourist potential I can't help but think what a wonderful educational resource this will be.  If you consider the nature exhibits that Singapore now has in total, the younger generations should be well attuned to the natural environment by the time they reach adulthood; Gardens By The Bay, the River and Nights Safaris, S.E.A Aquarium in Sentosa, Jurong Bird Park, the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the various marine and terrestrial ecology walks that dot the Island.

Add to this the new  Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum that is being built at NUS.  Visitors and students will be able to see 800,000 South East Asian specimens and the nearly complete fossils of three giant dinosaurs.

All in all a natural history "feast" for nature lovers and without doubt a magnet for eco-tourists.  And this market segment is significant.  As far back as 1993 the WTO estimated that nature tourism generated 7% of all international travel expenditure. By 1998 the same organisation estimated that ecotourism and all nature-related forms of tourism accounted for approximately 20 percent of total international travel and by the year 2020 their would be 1.6 billion international travellers. International tourist arrivals surpassed 1 billion (1.035 billion) for the first time in history in 2012.

Coupled with Singapore's Eco-approach to building and public spaces sees the country rapidly becoming the globe's Green Magnet, attracting eco-tourists from far and wide.
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