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​​Singapore, 4 March 2008 – Singapore’s service excellence champions in the travel and tourism industry received recognition for their stellar efforts at the prestigious Tourism Awards 2008 presentation ceremony held at the Esplanade Concert Hall today.

With this year’s theme “Our Tourism Universe, Our Brightest Stars”, some 30 individuals and organisations shone the brightest as winners of Tourism Awards 2008. An annual event by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the awards ceremony was graced by the President of Singapore, His Excellency S.R. Nathan.

Since its inauguration in 1985, the Awards has seen an increase in the number of awards presented (from seven to 27 this year), and is today considered the “Oscars” of the industry. Into its 22nd year, it has expanded from a tourist-and-travel centric recognition programme into one that encompasses all service industries and where local patronage is equally relevant. It also honours industry players who break new boundaries to take risks in creating distinctive products and services that offer unique memorable experiences in Singapore.

STB’s Deputy Chairman & Chief Executive, Mr Lim Neo Chian lauded the finalists and winners for their service excellence and also praised industry players who have shown creativity in their quest to enhance the tourism scene. Mr Lim said, “As is our annual tradition for the last 22 years, we honour tonight Singapore’s brightest tourism ‘Stars’ – outstanding individuals and organisations who are committed to growing a culture of service excellence and who show the spirit of enterprise by continually innovating their product offerings. Their efforts ensure that Singapore remains competitive as a destination.”

At the Awards ceremony, seven individuals were presented special honours. The Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award was presented to Mr Robert Kwan, Executive Chairman (retired) of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). Mr Kwan developed the Jurong BirdPark, Singapore Zoo and Night Safari into world-class institutions. Under his leadership, WRS reported record visitor numbers year-on-year; in 2006, all three parks welcomed 3.3 million visitors in total.

Mr Kwan said, "It has been my privilege to have served The Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and Jurong BirdPark over the past four years. I thank the Singapore Tourism Board for conferring this important award and I dedicate it to all the passionate, loyal and talented staff that have helped to transform our three parks into truly world class wildlife attractions."

Three Special Recognition Awards were also presented. As HANATOUR SERVICE INC’s Chief Executive Officer since its inception, Mr Park Sang Hwan is a firm supporter of Singapore. He has collaborated with STB on more than 50 promotional campaigns, bringing over 220,000 Korean visitors to Singapore in the past five years. Mr Park was also instrumental in developing the Singapore Education segment in Korea leading to rising numbers of Korean students coming here.

Mr Jeyathurai Ayadurai was honoured for his efforts to promote Singapore’s heritage. He founded Singapore History Consultants in 1995, which is now a premier research organisation in Singapore’s history. He is also The Changi Museum’s Director, raising awareness of the Pacific War, as well as Managing Director of Journeys Pte Ltd which developed the popular ‘Original Singapore Walks’ showcasing Singapore’s heritage.

Mr KF Seetoh is well known for his active promotion of Singapore’s unique gastronomical delights through his Makansutra publications, television shows and food tours as well as the setting up of the popular Glutton’s Bay at the Esplanade. He has also secured positive reviews of Singapore’s unique and colourful makan scene internationally through his coordination of the local hawker fare showcase at Singapore Day in New York’s Central Park in April 2007, as well as his personal friendships with noted food critics such as the late RW Apple Jr and Calvin Trillin from The New Yorker, and celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain and Bobby Chinn.

The Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year award was presented to Madam Lin Deng Li. The Founder and Chairman of Golden Travel Services Pte Ltd (GTS) has made the company a travel specialist of corporate and consumer travel as well as a market leader in educational tours to Singapore. No stranger to advocating cultural ties and exchange, Madam Lin plans to expand GTS’ travel offerings to promote and raise awareness of Singapore’s culture, education and arts options.

Country City Investment Pte Ltd‘s Director Florence Tan and Managing Director Soh Kim Teck are instrumental in transforming Dempsey Hill into the Asian lifestyle and dining destination of choice amongst Singaporeans, expatriates and visitors alike. The winning combination of Ms Tan’s business acumen and Mr Soh’s creative concepts has led to Dempsey Hill being hailed as a must-visit enclave here. They each received the New Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year award.

The Tourism Awards 2008 winners list threw up some surprises. The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Scarlet Hotel won for Best Accommodation Experience – Deluxe and Best Accommodation Experience – Superior respectively for the first time. The Inn at Temple Street knocked out hangout@mt.emily, which has won for the past two years, in the Best Accommodation Experience – Standard category.

The best shopping experience categories also saw first-time winners. Singapore’s newest mega mall Vivocity was a first-time finalist and winner for the Best Shopping Experience – Shopping Mall category, while Anthropology Homeware Pte Ltd picked up the Best Shopping Experience – Specialty Store award. The Best Shopping Experience – Best New Retail Concept award, which honours innovative ideas to enliven the retail scene, went to fashion furniture retailer iwannagohome!.

A number of past-year honourees continued their winning ways by raising the bar in their service commitment. Robinson & Co (S) Pte Ltd bagged an impressive seventh win in the Best Shopping Experience – Department Store category while the ever popular Singapore Zoo won Best Leisure Attraction Experience for the ninth time. Home-grown entertainment icon, Zouk, swept two awards – for the Best Nightspot Experience and Best Leisure Event Experience for ZoukOut Singapore 2007.

Spa Botanica at The Sentosa Resort & Spa was another of the night’s double winners. It picked up the Best Spa Experience award while its spa therapist, Ms Ma Khin Khin Lay, bagged the Best Tourism Host – Spa award.

This year’s winner for The Uniquely Singapore Award, which recognises the significant efforts and achievements that best encapsulate the essence, personality and inspiration behind the Uniquely Singapore branding, is the National E-Card Competition 2007. Organised by River Valley Primary School and Crescent Girls' School, the competition encouraged students to be tourism ambassadors, while instilling in them a sense of loyalty to and pride in Singapore. It also strengthened participants’ ownership of the Uniquely Singapore destination brand. It is an example of how non-industry players can make an impact on the tourism industry.

River Valley Primary School first organised the National E-Card Competition in 2004 and opened it to primary schools. Encouraged by the impressive response in the first two years, River Valley Primary School decided to open the competition to secondary schools in 2006, and Crescent Girl’s School came on board to promote and manage that new category. In 2007, the National E-Card Competition received an impressive 145 entries from 48 Secondary schools and 130 entries from 53 Primary schools. Approximately 1,130 teachers and students were involved in the competition. It is testimony of the competition’s great potential in encouraging the young to be Singapore’s tourism ambassadors to promote the Uniquely Singapore brand globally.

Celebrity chef and host of World Café Asia, Mr Bobby Chinn, received the Best Travel Story (Broadcast) award together with Mr Mark Francis and Mr Vikram Channa of Pilot Productions (Asia) / Discovery Travel and Living. The Best Travel Story (Print) went to renowned international journalist Mr Calvin Trillin for his Singapore Journal – Three Chopsticks feature in The New Yorker.

One Rochester’s hostess, Ms Roslinda Bte Ibrahim, was named Best Tourism Host – Nightspot. This is the second year running that a staff member from One Rochester is honoured in this category. The company rewarded last year’s winner, Mr Mohamad Yuzaini Bin Israil, with a trip to Spain and promised Ms Roslinda a similar reward, showing its dedication in maintaining an excellent service culture within its organisation.

The sweetest victory belonged to Mr Victor Woo Wee Yeong from SMRT Taxis Pte Ltd. A finalist in 1997, 2005 and 2006, he is a firm believer that providing his patrons with excellent service is part of his job. His service commitment paid off when he was finally named Best Tourism Host – Transport (Taxi) this year.

To encourage industry players to raise Singapore’s service levels, Mr Lim announced STB’s new accreditation scheme, Singapore Service STAR. This scheme aims to recognise the industry’s service champions and inspire others to continue improving service standards.

Both the Singapore Service STAR scheme and the Tourism Awards aim to inspire the industry to adopt a culture of service excellence by recognising the stars who have made significant contributions to enhance Singapore’s image as a service oriented nation and a destination renowned for delivering memorable service experiences.

For more details on the Tourism Awards 2008 and past Tourism Awards, please visit

- Ends -

Please refer to:

Annex A for the full list of Tourism Awards 2008 winners;

Annex B for Tourism Awards 2008 award categories

Annex C for Special Awards winners’ citations

About the Singapore Tourism Board:

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is an economic development agency for one of Singapore’s key service sectors – tourism. The mission of the Board is to develop and champion tourism, so as to build the sector into a key driver of economic growth for Singapore. The STB aims to differentiate and market Singapore as a memorable destination through the proliferation of the destination brand Uniquely Singapore.