Legoland v’s Flippa v’s Big Bird: battle over South East Asia tourism $

The battle for the domestic and foreign tourist dollar in South East Asia is intense and become more competitive.

Singapore’s Sentosa island’s claim that the soon to opened Marine Life Park will be the world’s largest oceanarium (very large aquarium!)  joins  Malaysia’s first Asian Legoland to battle with Universal Studios (also in Sentosa)  and Gardens by the Bay in Singapore for the tourism dollar, internally and externally.

 

 

Effectively given the location of Legoland to Singapore (just across the Straits of Johor) and within 20 mins driving they are all competing for Singapore tourists/residents mainly as well as Malaysian and Indonesians.

Of the 25 million tourists that Malaysia received in 2010, 13 million came from Singapore (that’s the 2.5 times the current population or twice the projected future one according to the “gah men”……).

Therefore positioning Legoland virtually on Singapore’s doorstep shows where they think visitors will come from (only 2.5 million visitors to Malaysia came from Indonesia, a country 48 times greater in population than Singapore but 14 times smaller on GDP per capita) is a very wise move and explains why the directions on the website say “near Singapore”.

The marketing team at Legoland could have maximised marketing around the Singapore GP and the Ferrari built entirely of Lego that has toured the island but seemed to miss a trick by ignoring it completely (see previous blog on Shell Lego Ferrari promotional partnership http://chrisreed.brandrepublic.com/2012/09/28/lego-revs-up-with-asia-first-shell-ferrari-partnership-promotion/)

It could have been a triple whammy of attractions for Sentosa as Legoland was apparently offered various plots of land there first before choosing Malaysia. It’s uusual for Singapore to miss a trick and miss out on 1.5 million visitors.

The news that Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) will be opening Marine Life Park in December just in time for xmas and Chinese New Year is an exciting development as Sentosa hits back in the tourism battle. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Universal Studios opened on the island but things move so quickly it seems as long ago as iphone 3….that’s the speed of how things happen in Singpaore!

RWS are promising two separate attractions: The Adventure Cove Waterpark and the South East Asia Aquarium. 100,000 marine animals from 800 species in 60 million litres of water are the facts that RWS will hope will attract visitors to their attraction and presumably also boost numbers for neighbouring attraction Universal Studios.

There has been much on line discussion about the new attraction’s dolphins but RWS are promising that these dolphins will be the “ambassadors” for the three pillars of the Marine Life Park, conservation, research and education….I think that they forgot the fourth and overriding one….tourism dollars and the ability to bring family visitors to the RWS attractions while the dads (ok it could be mums too) visit the RWS Casino….

Whether the Marine Life Park will be boycotted and the negative PR generated since 2010 when some of the dolphins to be featured died in captivity is going to be an interesting marketing challenge for the RWS marketing teams to overcome. Interestingly Legoland will also be opening a water park in 2013 along with other Lego branded attractions as they ramp up the interest and the USP of being the only Legoland in Asia.

Meanwhile Gardens by the Bay is attracting plaudits and millions of visitors and now the MRT Bay Front station is open numbers areincreasing.

Universal Studios continues to underwhelm people even with branded rides like Back to the Future, Transformers and Jurassic Park along with Madagascar opening recently and a “dark ride” from Sesame Street  coming in time for xmas….do you think all the characters will be dressed as Darth Vader?

Now a Star Wars theme park would be so cool, is that coming next? There’s room on Sentosa for another one…the space that Legoland declined would be ideal! (if it was underwater too it would complete the set!).

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