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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Revamping city tours for transit travellers

New itineraries to enliven Changi Experience
The Straits Times - January 2, 2012
By: Royston Sim
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Revamping city tours for transit travellers Tour guide Andrew Ong showing transit passengers around Thian Hock Keng Temple. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

THE two-hour free bus tour of Singapore offered since 1987 to passengers in transit at Changi Airport is to be revamped.

The Changi Airport Group (CAG) wants to refresh itineraries for the current two options - the Colonial Tour, which showcases the Singapore River and the civic district, and the Cultural Tour, which highlights Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam.

CAG issued a tender last Friday inviting tour operators to propose new itineraries in a bid to enliven the 'Changi Experience' for passengers who have time to kill before catching flights out of Singapore.

It plans to run the rebooted programme for two years starting from April, and to keep it free for passengers of all airlines who have at least five hours of transit time at Changi Airport.

Mr Peh Ke-Wei, CAG's vice-president for passenger development, said: 'Over the years, Singapore's tourism scene has seen many new attractions, and the profile of Changi Airport's travellers is constantly changing as well. It is thus a good time to introduce a new itinerary.'

He said operators will be encouraged to incorporate key heritage and cultural elements from old Singapore, as well as showcase new attractions.

The current tours, sponsored by CAG and Singapore Airlines (SIA), are run by SH Tours.

Five tours are offered daily, each with places for up to 40 people. About 4,000 passengers go on them every month; more than a million passengers have done so to date.

On board, passengers are put in the hands of tour guides such as Mr Andrew Ong, 52, who tell them about Singapore's history and recommend local food and attractions.

Mr Peh said: 'The tour is really meant to be a teaser. We hope to get people interested in returning.'

Changi attracted more than 42 million passengers in the first 11 months of last year - on a par with the total for the year before. CAG said three-quarters of the participants are SIA passengers, as the airline accounts for the bulk of transfers at Changi.

Asked if CAG and SIA would consider expanding the tour length beyond two hours, Mr Peh said: 'It's definitely an option to consider if the proposed ideas are appealing enough.'

One of the tours charmed some passengers last week into considering a return visit here.

Engineer Gitam Goswami, 28, who was en route to Bangalore from Tokyo, said she would return to visit the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort. She said: 'The tour was interesting. I saw a lot of things in a short time.'

Ms Sachie Kitagawa, 20, who joined the tour during a 12-hour layover on her flight from Adelaide to Nagoya, said: 'The tour made me want to come back. It was good to know more about Singapore. I'll be transiting here again in a month, so I might take a shuttle bus to the city.'



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