09 June 2008

A Case of Similar Attractions

On today's Straits Times (via SingaporeSurf), there was an article on the tourist attractions in Singapore being too expensive for most Singaporeans (digression: sounds like a contradiction to me, but that's just my phrasing; the holy Straits Times will never make such a lousy mistake). Well, well... it just sounds like those other articles that cling onto my brain with the same lifetime as an excited atom, until I hit upon this quote,

Ms Isabel Cheng, a spokesman for the Singapore Zoo, Jurong BirdPark and Night Safari, said that admission rates are 'relatively low' compared to similar attractions in Australia and the United States, and that the experience one gets is worth the money.

Okay I know too little about attractions in the US, and yes, relatively is a relatively ambiguous term. But compared to similar attractions in Australia? I'm not so sure. Of course, it does come down to how you define similar.

If we're comparing tourist-traps of both locations, like WhiteWater World and Warner Bro. Movie World in Gold Coast, yeah then perhaps that sentence makes sense, for an entry ticket into these places can cost up to hundreds per person and few hundreds a family. Singapore's, on the other hand, "would set a family of four back by $125 on average."

However, if we compare the same kind of attractions, like zoo to zoo, then I think it may not be quite on the mark. I remember going to the Melbourne Zoo (up to the gate, but not into it) and the entrance fee was like only A$20+ per person. Night Safari? You can always walk into the wilderness for free and get friendly with the kangeroos... or if you wish for a safe journey of higher yield, the Bonorong Wildlife Park I visited in Tasmania allows entry at about A$15+ per person. And many attractions like nature reserves and parks are free. The same goes for the annual Floriade festival in Canberra.

This reminds me of a discussion with Yao while walking through Floriade. Surely, the state government has to put in few hundreds of thousands of dollars at least in the creation and maintenance of this festival. Could Singapore do the same, with that grand scale and stunning variety? Our conclusion: maybe, but how much will the entrance fee be?

So I do think that the statement by that spokesman may not be quite right, depending on how it's interpreted. Of course, there's the second part on the value of the experience, and I think the judgement is best given by the individual.