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Singapore is becoming a popular Overseas Destination among Indians

The cruise operators offer vegetarian meals, local cuisine and special events reflecting the culture and local traditions that appeal to South Asian guests

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Singapore is becoming a popular overseas destination
Cruise ship Costa Victoria at the Singapore Cruise Centre. Wikimedia Commons
  • Singapore has become a popular overseas destination among Indians not for its food or casinos but for its cruise.
  • Fly cruise tourism has become the new trend
  • The cruise operators offer Indian cuisine, Bollywood songs, cultural events, in order to provide a local touch and please the Indian guests

New Delhi, July 30, 2017: The rank of the hawker food or the city-state’s casinos has dropped in the list of the reasons to visit Singapore, as traveling on a cruise is becoming the current favorite activity among Indians.

Singapore is a destination that most Indians have been choosing for their trip abroad, but the case now is that most people wish to go to Singapore, not for all the exciting things they can do there, but to get on a ship.

Rahul Maini, an Indian architect, and his parents embarked on their first trip abroad in May, and with the similar purpose.

Around 100,000 Indians sailed from Singapore last year, making India the biggest market for cruises departing from the Southeast Asian nation, according to the Singapore Tourism Board. Singapore has become a dynamic entry point for Indian cruise ship passengers.

“We chose to go on a cruise because we could visit three countries in one short trip,” said Maini. The family spent about $7,700, which Maini described as expensive but worth the cost, mentioned the NDTV report.

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The expenditure is part of the 777.3 billion rupees ($12 billion) that Euromonitor International has predicted to be the amount that the middle-class Indians will shell out on overseas leisure travel this year. The research company further said that the market is expanding about 10 percent annually and is expected to eclipse 1 trillion rupees by 2020.

The Changi Airport Group, which manages Singapore’s international airport have stated that India is growing the fastest among the city-state’s top 10 inbound passenger markets. Even though the Middle East and France are the most preferred overseas destinations for Indians, Singapore is on the verge of registering a 59 percent jump in arrivals from India from 2015 to 2020, according to Euromonitor.

India has even outperformed china by 3 percentage points this year, as the number of arrivals from the country increased 15 percent in the first five months of this year in comparison with the year earlier. A lot of tourists come particularly to join a cruise.

Fly-Cruise Tourism

Fly cruise tourism has also become a trend among Indian tourists.

The number of Indian passengers on Royal Caribbean ships jumped 149 percent so far this year, compared with the same period last year. This includes the peak summer school holiday period that runs in India from May to June, said Sean Treacy, the company’s Asia Pacific managing director.

“Singapore is a regional-hub port which is near many attractive Southeast Asian cruise destinations in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam,” Treacy said. “Voyages from Singapore offer Indian tourists the convenience of visiting multiple destinations across different countries on a single trip while unpacking only once,” he said.

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The number of cruise passengers from India leaving via Singapore has been increasing by least 10 percent a year annually, said Michael Goh, senior vice president of international sales for Genting Cruise Lines.

“Perceptions of cruising among Indian travelers are fast-changing,” Goh said.

Local Touch

Royal Caribbean is adding more cruises for India’s summer school holidays, Treacy said.

The cruise operators offer vegetarian meals, local cuisine and special events reflecting the culture and local traditions that appeal to South Asian guests.

“More Bollywood music may be played at the pool or disco parties, and more jewelry gift sets, which are popular with Indians, may be procured for sailings that host a higher number of them on board,” Royal Caribbean’s Treacy said.

Mani’s overseas holiday has given him a travel bug. “Singapore was good, but the cruise was better,” Maini said, who’s now saving for a cruise from Barcelona.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter: goel_samiksha

 

Next Story

Tourism Benefits Tribes, Boosts Economies, Creates Jobs for Native Americans

Summer is fast approaching, and with it comes millions of vacationers from at home and abroad

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americans, tourism, economies
This undated photo shows a Yavapai tour guide speaking with a group of visitors to the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation in Maricopa County, Arizona. Courtesy: AIANTA VOA

By: Cecily Hilleary

Summer is fast approaching, and with it comes millions of vacationers from at home and abroad. Travel experts cite growing interest in Native American tourism, “authentic” cultural exchanges with tribes beyond gambling at tribal casinos.

Native tourism can be beneficial to tribes, boosting economies, creating jobs and allowing Native communities to control their own historic narratives. But tourism has its drawbacks, and some tribes have found that pleasing tourists while maintaining their cultural identity can be challenging.

americans, tourism, economies
This September 9, 2018 photo shows dancers at a pow wow, part of Indian Summer Festival, which takes place each year on the weekend after Labor Day in Milwaukee, Wi. Courtesy: AIANTA VOA

In 2016, the most recent year for which there are statistics, 1.95 million international tourists visited U.S. Indian reservations, supporting more than 44,000 jobs.

The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), a national organization that helps Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tribes and communities to advance tourism, projects the number of international visitors to U.S. reservations will rise to 2.4 million by 2020.

“People want to learn the real stories from the people who have lived them,” said AIANTA spokesperson Monica Poling. “So, rather than bringing in a non-Native tour guide to recount a history they don’t have an attachment to, our tribal members are involved in developing and crafting their own stories,” she said.

americans, tourism, economies
Memorial to the 1838 Trail of Tears at the Cherokee Heritage Centre in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. VOA

Some tribes, like the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, already have well-developed programs that include museums, cultural centers and guided tours to landmarks and historic sites. Cherokee National Day, an annual commemoration of the signing of the Cherokee’s Constitution in 1839, attracts as many as 100,000 visitors each year.

But others, particularly those located in poor, rural areas, are hard-pressed to meet tribe members’ needs, let alone build up tourism.

economies, tourism, americans
In a Friday, July 20, 2012, photo, from the left; Tricia Bear Eagle, Helen Red Feather, Rudell Bear Shirt and Edward Jealous Of Him, all of Wounded Knee, S.D., wait for tourists near the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservati. VOA

Ivan Sorbel, executive director of the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce, says the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota, has much to offer tourists: casinos, visitor centers, a heritage center dedicated to the arts, historic sites and incredible scenery.

“But we don’t have the infrastructure to support big numbers of visitors,” he said.“We have one motel and one casino hotel, but they offer limited beds and couldn’t accommodate large tour groups for overnight stays.”

Expanded tourism, he said, would also strain the reservation’s road system and water supply.

“But given the increasing interest in Native travel, we’re looking forward to growing this sector in the near future,” said Sorbel.

economies, americans, tourism
The landscape of the Badlands boasts a maze of buttes, canyons, pinnacles and spires, with sedimentary rock layers exposed by eons of erosion. VOA

Contrived culture?

Tourism can sometimes have a negative impact on tribes. Some studies suggest that encounters between tribes and tourists may be too brief to significantly change non-Natives’ preconceived notions about American Indians.

Tribes may stage artificial culture by dressing up in inauthentic regalia, setting up tipis or passing off cheap souvenirs as “genuine” Native crafts.

economies, tourism, americans
A vendor wheels her cart of souvenirs before the start of the North American Indian Days parade on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Mont., Saturday, July 14, 2018. VOA

“If the best you can do is to dress up and show visitors what people looked like 200 years ago, to my way of thinking you have already failed,” said Sara Mathuin, the owner of Go Native America, who for 20 years has conducted small tours in Indian Country for international visitors and says she has “seen it all.”

Many tourists, in her experience, developed an interest in Native Americans through the “New Age” movement.

“They choose what elements of the culture they like and meld it all together to create a religion that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the real Native America.”

tourism, americans, economies
Dancers and a tipi at the European Rainbow Gathering in Bosnia, 2007. New age movements and Indian “hobbiests” have appropriated many elements of Native American cultures and spirituality. VOA

A good tour, said Mathuin, focuses on human similarities, not human differences. Tourists are less likely to appropriate from those they’ve gotten to know personally.

Tourists sometimes cross boundaries or fail to show respect for their host cultures — crashing religious ceremonies, for example, or picking up artifacts.

“I have friends on Pine Ridge who say (some European tourists) don’t even bother to knock on front doors,” said Mathuin. “They just open the front door and say, ‘Can I have a look around?’”

Tourists can also wreak havoc on the environment and strain water and energy supplies.

tourism, economies, americans
This undated photo provided by the U.S. National Park Service shows toilet paper strewn throughout Death Valley National Park, Calif. National parks across the United States are scrambling to clean up and repair damage caused by visitors and storms. VOA

Despite the potential drawbacks, Mathuin believes when done right, tourism can benefit tribes tremendously. And “doing it right” doesn’t require fancy facilities or play-acting.

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“All it requires are people and knowledge,” she said. “In the end, it’s all about the stories.” (VOA)

Cecily Hilleary is a journalist at Voice of America. Twitter: @CecilyHilleary