Tourism in Sports

June 28, 2008

The world of sports is certainly a lucrative one, giving the recognition being placed on it, whether as a barometer of human progress, a showcase of indomitable human spirit, or simply, a chance to earn bragging rights on an international or regional platform.

This is further exemplified by how numerous countries have invested money into building up their burgeoning sports industries, amplified more so by the efforts and incentives of the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) in attracting foreign talent to Singapore, as well as the carrot being dangled in front of our sportsmen as motivation for them to perform.

The number of sporting events which capture global attention is countless, with the Summer Olympics, World Cup, Euro Championships and Commonwealth Games being some of the few large scale events with a lot of hoohaa attached.

The prestige of hosting a major sporting event has therefore grown leaps and bounds over the years, as a nation welcomes the best athletes from around the world for approximately a month of friendly competition. The benefits are boundless – a chance to build political ties and to gain recognition, as well as the promising tourism revenue which is bound to come along.

The onus lies with the host country to invest hefty sums of revenue to refurbish pre-existing infrastructure, as well as to construct new systems and to erect supportive tourism promotion campaigns so as to ensure the successful execution of the event.

Euro 2008 logoVia Euro 2008, Austria and Switzerland is bound to reap rewards from the European fans that are expected to descend on the countries during the championships, with an estimate of $358 million gained by the Swiss economy and $369 million gained by the Austrian economy. In Austria alone, overnight bookings have hit the 2-million mark during the campaign, which is well above the usual rates for the month of June, while almost 11,000 temporary jobs have been created to cope with the visitor influx.

However, while it may still be too early to tell, things do not look especially rosy for the upcoming Beijing Summer Olympics and Singapore’s Formula One Night Race.

Both events have been in the news lately in the run-up till the kick-off of the events.

The Beijing Games have been fraught with controversy surrounding the Chinese-Tibetan rule and the subsequent exile of the Daila Lama, and as a result, an unprecedented spotlight was shone on the global torch relay.

Formula One Grand Prix posterThe Singapore Formula One Night Race has been vigorously marketed as a world’s first-ever F1 night race.

Yet, recent reports have shown that the Formula One hotel booking is looking sluggish, while there is no sign of Olympic boom for Beijing hotels.

So, what ticks and what does not?

In the case of the Beijing Games, fingers are being pointed at wildly inflated prices within the country in view of the impending games despite a global economic slump, tighter visa regulations (ironically to keep out excessive visitors, a plan which has since proven to backfire), as well as possible anti-Chinese sentiments in the wake of the deadly Tibetan rioting. Tourism figures have dropped by 12.5% comparing May this year to a year ago.

As for Singapore, it is speculated that the sluggish outcome is a result of escalated hotel rates, especially for the hotels surrounding the race track, so much so that hotels have started pushing down their prices. But seriously, could there be an over-estimation for the demand? Ardent F1 fans would have snapped up grandstand tickets when ticketing sales first open. And, who would want to watch miniature-sized cars zoom by at a fraction of a second from, say, the thirtieth floor? Where is the kick in that?

The sciences behind generating revenue during a major sporting event may not be that simple, but the works are easy – for money to be earned, people have to come, and apart from placing too much focus and reliance on the sports itself, perhaps there is also a need to sell the country per se as well.

 

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The ERP System

June 20, 2008

Here comes the depressing news. With effect from 07/07/2008, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), in conjunction with the Singapore government, is attempting to further burn deeper holes out of the pockets of local motorists. Escalating fuel costs aside, motorists now have to contend with both higher ERP rates AND new ERP gantries around the city centre.

For the benefit of Singaporeans who have been living in a slumber, as well as for our overseas counterparts who may find it bewildering why complaints about Singapore’s road and transportation system have been rife lately, the ERP stands out Electronic Road Pricing, designed to keep Extremely Rude People who road-hogs off the roads so as to regulate traffic during peak hours.

Sounds good? Perhaps, but the question remains whether the ERP is actually suffice in fulfilling its role in controlling traffic. Statistics from the Straits Times have shown that average speeds along North Bridge Road and South Bridge Road have dropped from about 25km/h in 2002 to 19km/h last month during peak hours of 6pm to 8pm.

So, will the latest review of ERP rates actually work?

Considering the fact that Singaporeans (as well as many people around the world) suffer from this innate disorder known otherwise as the complain-about-new-system-yet-still-revert-to-the-old-ways-because-it’s-after-all-the-way-of-life-so-what-if-it’s-pricier syndrome (for a case in point, look at the nil impact on passenger frequency despite the hike in taxi fares a few months ago), this will probably end up a red herring.

In addition, this does not seem to go along well with the government’s efforts to promote healthier family lifestyles. Picture a car owner (with a family) who drives to work. In a bid to escape ERP charges, said car owner decides to work overtime (earning more money simultaneously) and settle his dinner in the vicnity, before driving home after the ERP operations cease at 8pm. As if this shall go a long way in boosting the floundering birth rates of the nation. Of course, said car owner may decide to leave his vehicle in the car park and use the public transport instead, but he’ll end up having to squeeze his way home on the MRT. Despite the LTA’s promised increase in frequency of the trains, they’re still as packed as sardines during peak hours. So why forego the comfort of one’s own car for public transport if one can still afford it?

Nonetheless, all the ERP brouhaha has resulted in several pictorial spoofs attempting to make a mockery of the entire system:

Singapore 2010 - An ERP Spoof

Image credited to www.phuakahkengthomas.blogspot.com/

Be Kind, Rewind

March 30, 2008

Local cinemas really ought to learn to be kinder to its patrons.

The prices of Cathay’s movie ticket prices rose on January 31 this year, leaving a rather rancid taste in my mouth, given my personal opinion that their cinemas are equipped with the better facilities in Singapore (ranging from complicated matters like their surround sound system to their seats). For the uninitiated regarding the new prices of Cathay’s movie tickets, the following table just about sums it up:

Revised Cathay Ticket Prices
*Click to Enlarge (Source: http://www.cathay.com.sg/cp_ticketprices.html)

The hike of Cathay’s cinema tickets is needed to “offset exceeding operational costs”. I recall newspaper reports, in the wake of the brouhaha over the hike, mentioning that “the other cinema organisaions currently have no intention to increase movie ticket prices”. The revelation that Cathay was not running a very much profitable business was somewhat baffling.

However, less than two months later, in a kneejerk reaction I suppose, Golden Village has followed-up with Cathay’s price increment by going through the “monkey-see monkey-do” motions typical of Singaporeans. The reason they provided was, quoting the CNA website, “a result of the current market situation and rising costs”. Could GV possibly have used the past two months to observe the successes of Cathay’s price increment, and noting that there was no significant decrease in movie patrons, decide to follow suit as well?

The following table sums up the prices of GV movie tickets currently:-

Golden Village Revised Ticket Rates

  *Click to Enlarge (Source: http://www.gv.com.sg/promodetails/gv_promotions_916.jsp)

The ironic thing is that, similarly, the other movie organisations have proclaimed to have “no plans to increase ticket prices” (yet again). We shall see how long they remain plan-less before they get tempted to join in the act.

On a side issue basis, I shall take this opportunity to highlight a boo-boo on the ChannelNewsAsia.com’s 26-Mar released story regarding the issue, Golden Village to increase ticket price by 50 cents“.

Channel News Asia Boo-Boo

Cathay Cineplex, of course, has no plans to increase ticket prices, given that it had just done so barely two months ago!

Perhaps in a bid to be more attentive to the tight pockets of the young and the elderly, given that they’re not part of the workforce and are thus unlikely to have any active or passive income, the cinemas have also opted to practise third-degree price discrimination by lowering the ticket prices for students and senior citizens. How brutal, the real world is, that these groups of people get concessions for everyday entertainment like movies and are able to enjoy the same movies as commoners like us for a much cheaper price! 

While I concur that concessions should be allowed for these groups of people for necessities such as transportation and food, as well as at tourist attractions etc, it really gets quite absurd when senior citizens get to watch two movies at a cheaper price than regular people watching one.

Anyway, the tactics used by two prominent movie organisations – Golden Village and Eng Wah to address the issue is extremely contrasting.

Golden Village is apparently opting for an appeasing tactic, trying to play down any furore or disappointment or disgust it could have imbued in the public by attempting to minimize any attention made to the issue on its front page. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-liner, GV merely mentions the issue head-on in a one-liner at the top of the page: “GV’s New Ticket Prices. Find out more HERE”. They even try to sidetrack this sticky issue by glamourising the entire price hike, placing the issue under the Promotions segment, focussing on special deals consumers may use to offset the price hike instead. (If you’re lucky, you’d get to see the promotional banner at the top of the page when you visit)

Comparatively, however, Eng Wah opts for something much flashier as its marketing strategy:-

Eng Wah Movie Ticket Rates

 

*Click to Enlarge  (Source: http://www.ewcinemas.com.sg/)

Nevertheless, if only movie ticket prices could be rewinded back to the good ol’ days when cinema tickets merely cost $5 apiece… … …..

What is your boss like?

March 29, 2008

You know, when you work in an organization, do your superiors really look out for you?

 Living is hard. Especially where we are at. We constantly need to struggle (perform) to earn our pay check and bring bread and butter to our family. Especially since the prices keep going up. In the hierarchy of the organization, there is a special person who manages you- your boss.

 Well, if it’s a compact-sized organization, most of the time your boss would watch out for you. You are his direct production-line. And everything you do and produce, provides resources for the organization which will be used to bring more income back. As such, you are an important asset to the organization. You fail to perform, the organization fail to grow. Hence, the more important that bosses make sure you are well, up and going, and motivated to do the work

I have a question regarding large organizations where the corporate ladder is the main goal. Here, you see executives scrambling to outdo each other, and put their names up in front so that they become the “Next Big Thing” for rising up the ranks. It’s important to watch your back, say the right words, do the right things, and show the right image. And in situations like this, it’s especially important to note if your manager is one of them and he chooses to claim your work as his. Here, you can say that your boss is only looking out for his back, and his daily bread and butter. He wouldn’t care about you. There are many more of you around anyway. It’s a large place. And all he cares about is himself.

So, how many of these bosses do you really encounter today?

 Espcially with all the emphasis on a happy and productive organization. Do such political puppet-play really happen?

I’m curious. What do you think?

Interviews

March 13, 2008

Introducing a new feature on THE AMOEBA REPUBLIC… … The “INTERVIEWS” segment of the blog!

THE AMOEBA REPUBLIC will periodically conduct interviews with people from various walks of life to be featured in this segment. As such, readers are encouraged to keep a lookout for updates to this page! In addition, do feel free to suggest any person / groups of people whom you would like to hear from, and we at THE AMOEBA REPUBLIC will do our best to make the interview happen. E-mail us your suggestions at amoeba.republic@gmail.com!

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the e-mail interviews which we have conducted with several esteemed bloggers in the Singaporean blog scene. These interviews are vital in fuelling our learning process, given that we’re still babies in the blogosphere.

I will like to take some time to acknowledge and thank the people who took the time to respond – namely Alvin of “A L V I N O L O G Y“, and Gerald of “Singapore Patriot(so far). However, while the latter’s interview will not be made public in accordance to his wishes, it has really been such an awesome learning process for me 🙂

ETA: New interviews are up following responses from Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan of nofearSingapore and Benjamin Cheah of Lionheart! Thank you for your time and attention!

Where is the Love?

February 19, 2008

Let’s face it, Singapore is an achievement-fuelled nation. That’s the reason why the Singapore Flyer was built to become the world’s highest ferris wheel (at least for now), while all sorts of missions are frequently organised such as to write the nation into the Guinness Book of World Records (Longest popiah, anyone?).

I suppose that is precisely why, despite the numerous believable conspiracy theories abounding that the voting system was flawed, when local contestant Hady Mirza won Asian Idol (which should more effectively be named South East Asian Idol because it only featured contestants from around the region, with the exception of India. What about Taiwan and China, the land of the singing competitions? Are they ineligible just because those countries chose to be original and not rip off the tried-and-tested, yet unreliable, idol format?) against all the powerhouses, his pretty mug was unabashedly splashed all over the front pages of all local tabloids AND the advertisements were replayed over and over again on television.

Total Overkill.The Amazing Race Asia

Now, Adrian and Collin from The Amazing Race Asia 2 have gone one-up on fellow Singapore competitors Sharon and Melody from the previous season by winning the whole damn thing, furthermore on home soil. And they won by being the underdogs too (like Hady), being last for most of the final leg back in Singapore!

That would have been, all by itself already, such a strong media storyline (and I have not gone into the fact that Adrian is the first hearing-impaired contestant ever casted on The Amazing Race. How’s that for a sweet victory?) Yet, their victory was marginalised to small articles within the newspaper itself.

Where’s the front page news?! Where is the Love? The achievements of Hady shagging his lungs out against other vocal powerhouses in the inaugural Asian Idol is probably on par with the achievements of Adrian and Collin shagging their energy out for close to a month against other competitors from around the region, flying 4 continents in the process.

Is this because The Amazing Race Asia 2 is unavailable on free-to-air television here?
Or is this because Asian Idol is more prestigious just because it is shown live?

uncyclopedia.org

February 14, 2008

A visit to www.mrbrown.com today resulted in total laugh-out-loud hilarity. Period.

He had quoted a passage from uncyclopedia (a spoof of wikipedia), from an entry on the SAF.
[Please see: “SAF: Most powerful military organization in the world“]

Following further exploration of the website, I came across an entry for Singapore.

The following are several excerpts from the site:

  • Although Singapore has been largely forgotten in the annals of world history, the city-state has seen tremendous growth in terms of international recognition; in 2004, a worldwide poll ranked Singapore as the 4th “country that no one would miss if it were completely obliterated next Tuesday”, behind Bhutan
  • On the map, Singapore appears to be a little “red dot”, which can be seen as a pimple on the ass of the world.
  • Singapore is famous for being a shopper’s paradise. There are 2.1 million shopping malls in Singapore, or nearly one for every two citizens. Of these malls, over 2 million of them have the same shops, which makes it easy to find exactly what you are looking for.
  • Also, SBS (Si Beh Slow) Transit buses always travel with the speed of a cyclist, and sometimes it will go so slow while approaching the traffic light while it’s green, gaining only a few seconds of speed when the light turns yellow.
  • The Board of Film Censors classifies censored movies into different ratings:
    • G (Goddamn boring)
    • PG (Phails Godly)
    • NC16 (No Cunts under 16)
    • M18 (Manly 18)
    • R21 (Raunchy 21)

* Disclaimer: Please note that the entries on the above website should be taken in a tongue-in-cheek fashion and should not be viewed seriously. Not for the weak-hearted nor for the extreme patriotic.