Singapore celebrates 50 years of tourism achievements

Singapore – It was a night to remember at the Tourism50 Gala Dinner and the Singapore Experience Awards 2014 where veteran tourism leaders and frontline service professionals of Singapore’s tourism industry celebrated 50 years of remarkable transformation of Singapore’s tourism landscape. Over 50 years, Singapore has evolved into a captivating visitor destination and a much-loved home for locals, owing much to the ongoing support and contribution from home grown enterprises and residents.

Organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the glittering evening included the annual Singapore Experience Awards. Now in its sixth edition, the prestigious event pays homage to those who have contributed and excelled in creating a compelling experience for both visitors and residents in the Lion City.

This year, 29 awards spanning five key categories: Outstanding Contribution, Special Recognition, Customer Service, Experience and Marketing and Media were presented. These encompass experiences from industries such as attractions, BTMICE, dining, entertainment, hospitality, learning travel, medical travel and retail.

Held at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore on October 31 the gala dinner was attended by guest of honour, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Lionel Yeo, chief executive of STB, said: “The transformation in our tourism landscape would not have been possible without the people in our tourism industry; their passion, dedication and hard work have been key to the success of Singapore tourism.

“Hence, by combining the Tourism50 celebrations with this year’s Singapore Experience Awards, we honour and recognise the best, but we also show our appreciation for the support and efforts from all in the tourism sector.”

A thoughtfully chosen panel of 65 local and international veterans across diverse fields such as education, hospitality and dining judged this year’s Awards through a rigorous series of online assessments and mystery audits.

Janice Azupardo, regional vice president, branding and communications, Meritus Hotels & Resorts said through judging she was able to witness firsthand how truly invested people and organisations are in achieving more for the local tourism sector. “I feel this is my way of contributing towards the recognition of service excellence, and the benchmarking of customer service standards,” she said.

The Singapore Experience Awards is part of TravelRave 2014, Asia’s most influential travel trade festival. For a complete list of 2014 award recipients visit

Lifetime Achievement for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism: Geraldene Lowe-Ismail

Unforgettable experiences in any destination goes above and beyond just visiting particular attraction, food or hotel – it has to be nothing short of superior. And the Singapore Experience Awards celebrates the individuals and businesses who consistently innovate and push the boundaries to create truly unique and amazing visitor experiences.

With almost half a century of tourist guiding experience, Geraldene Lowe-Ismail is a true pioneer in helping shape and mentor walking tours speaking of forgotten trades or architecture of Singapore. Throughout her career, Lowe-Ismail’s passion and creativity has raised the level of professionalism and standards in the tourist guide profession.

Known as a walking history encyclopaedia, the sprightly 76 year old is affectionately described as Singapore’s ‘oldest streetwalker’ – she has traced Singapore’s streets since 1967, guiding groups of visitors and locals on heritage tours of her own creation.

Trail blazer
Born from her frustration that visitors to Singapore were only visiting the tourist spots of the city, Lowe-Ismail’s heritage tours offer the real Singapore and showcase its diverse culture, design and architecture. With her incredible knowledge of local history and stories, her tours explore local homes, back lanes and cultural enclaves and are littered with jewels of historical titbits and even personal experiences.

Starting out in the travel industry, first as a travel agent and then as a part-time tourist guide, she travelled across the globe extensively for many years and eventually returned to Singapore around the same time as the formation of the Singapore Tourism Board. During these pioneering days of tourism she ran training tour guides for the Board and then commenced on her journey of becoming a guide herself.

Striving further
Her love for guiding is built on her passion to keep Singapore’s recollections and experiences alive. This passion had led her to create the Singapore Heritage Society. She was also a founding member and first President of the inaugural tourist guide association in Singapore – Registered Tourist Guides Association of Singapore.

Fast forward to present day and Lowe-Ismail’s tours are world famous with inclusions in travel guides like Lonely Planet. Her work helps to position Singapore on the world stage by offering visitors unforgettable tour experiences. Still very active in the industry, she kick-started the ‘Singapore Through The Years’ coach tours in honour of the Tourism50 celebrations this year, identifying historic places that have experienced Singapore’s tourism growth over the years.

Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year: Yeoh Siew Hoon

Charismatic and dynamic, Yeoh Siew Hoon is a passionate advocate
of the tourism industry. The editor-at-large for SHY Ventures and founder and editor of Web In Travel (WIT), she was recognised as the Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year in the Singapore Experience Awards 2014. Yeoh is also an established speaker and facilitator at travel industry events and a published author.

With almost 30 years of experience in the travel industry and expertise in media and marketing, Yeoh is responsible for many firsts in Singapore, including the founding of Web In Travel (WIT) in 2005. One of Asia’s most respected travel editors and commentators, she knows the ins and outs of the travel business especially after covering the travel industry for more than two decades.

Testing boundaries
Yeoh’s success can be attributed to her ability to find unique and innovative means to address the industry’s needs. When founding WIT, Yeoh saw a need to recognise the changes arising from the Internet and technology advancements. She addressed this need by growing what started out as an annual conference (now held in partnership with ITB Asia) into a content and community portal about the online travel space in Asia Pacific. WIT breaks down walls in the industry between people, cultures, knowledge and ideas by providing news, commentary, analysis and opinions.
Educating industry
Other than online travel, Yeoh is passionate about mentoring the next generation, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation. With her incredible drive and dynamic personality she has started up various educational and industry platforms with the objective of inspiring young minds, spreading new ideas and sparking change.
One example is WITNext, a coaching and mentoring Summer Camp that is free for anyone who wants to work in the travel industry but aren’t sure where to begin. Yeoh’s initiatives bridge industry players and young talent so that they can better understand each other.

Champion for women
Yeoh is an inspiring advocate of women in the travel industry. She is active in supporting women as industry leaders and over the last few years spearheaded the creation of the one-day ‘WITx Conference’. This event puts the spotlight on a generation of women travel leaders to educate the industry on the potential of the female market in the digital age of travel.

Best Business Event Champion: Dr. Lee Yuan Kun

A scientist is not typically among the people one imagines would be successful in bringing large groups of visitors to Singapore. But for Dr Lee Yuan Kun, associate professor, Department of Microbiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, the ability came naturally.

The recipient of the Best Business Event Champion award, Dr Lee proved himself a great ambassador of Singapore when he led the successful bid for the World Congresses of the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS) 2017 bringing together 4,000 delegates from around the world.  

A passionate professional, Dr Lee believes in the meeting of minds and Singapore’s strengths and capabilities to deliver business events that are of quality content and unique experiences. He was part of the team that put up the Singapore Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology’s winning bid – in close collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board (STB) – to host IUMS, the premier microbiological forum in Asia.

The large-scale event is anticipated to attract around 4,000 international delegates over a six-day programme. It is the first time the congress will be held in a South-East Asia nation. After having travelled to many conferences around the world, Dr Lee is excited to welcome his international colleagues to Singapore in 2017.

Dr Lee’s active participation in STB’s Conference Ambassador Programme enabled him to network with other professionals and amass a support system to contribute to the bid. He has also learnt from the programme how to market Singapore as a premier business events destination.

Aside from leading and winning this valuable bid for Singapore, Dr Lee is a firm supporter of the business events industry through his participation in numerous STB activities and collaborations.

One of which was his significant contribution to MICE 2020, a medium-term roadmap jointly developed by STB and the business events industry to build on Singapore’s strengths as a MICE city and to sustain its leadership position for the future. He provided valuable insights that will help enhance the MICE visitor’s experience in Singapore.

Exceptional Achievement

The pinnacle of the Singapore Experience Awards — the Exceptional Achievement award honours organisations who have achieved the remarkable feat of winning for three consecutive years in the same award category. This special recognition is earmarked for two years, highlighting their exceptional dedication and commitment in providing a distinctive and consistent experience that brings back visitors again and again.

Exceptional Achievement (2015-16) for Best Visitor Attraction Experience: Night Safari (2012-14)

The Night Safari opened in 1994 and is the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals.

Mr Lee Meng Tat, CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said: “It is a great tribute to receive these awards and the team is euphoric. Being recognised yet again is testament of the team’s hard work and commitment to providing the ultimate night-time wildlife experience to visitors.”

Today, the award-winning park welcomes more than 1.1 million visitors a year. Both locals and international visitors enjoy the unique experience of seeing over 2,500 animals in their naturalistic night time habitats.

Year on year this attraction has continued its efforts to rejuvenate and recreate their offerings to ensure the experience is always fresh for the visitors.

Exceptional Achievement (2015-16) for Leisure Event of the Year: Chingay Parade Singapore  (2012-14)

This national event is over 40 years old and is the largest street performance and float parade in Asia. From the main parade site to the heartlands, the two-day street extravaganza epitomises the dynamism of Singapore’s vibrant and multicultural society.

Mr Ang Hak Seng, BBM, chief executive director of People’s Association said: “It’s a great pride for us to be given such a high honour, because Chingay has a humble beginning. It has grown from strength to strength, from a multi-racial cultural celebration to a highly spectacular global show today.”

The Chingay Parade is a lively festival performance that is organised to entertain and educate attendees while creating significant commercial impact and attracting visitors and media attention to Singapore. The parade helps to position Singapore as a premier lifestyle destination through its originality and creativity in the experience that it provides. Source: CEI