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.


Anonymous said...

That spokesman is talking about the tourists, not Singaporeans going to these "similar attractions".

But why they did not compare with similiar ASEAN attractions?

Pandemonium said...

Hmm ya, but whether it's tourist or Singaporeans, my point is that the comparison can be a bit misleading.

As for comparing with other ASEAN attractions, I suppose, reasonably speaking, it's of a different league. Singapore is, after all, a first-world nation (defined by economic standards) and thus should be compared to similar cities.

TWL said...

Almost totally unrelated to your points made, but here's my 5 cents.

When I read the original article I was more amused by the somewhat unsound experimental methodology. To find the cost of visiting an attraction (for a family), they factored in the cost of items such as toys and meals. Adding such items into the cost introduces a lot of nonsense into the results.

For example, which toy or which meal did they choose in the calculation of the cost ? Ultimately, the final figure is mostly meaningless.

I would stick to using only the ticket price as an indicator of cost.

Matty said...

um.. i think he compared to entry into steve Irwin's AUSTRALIA ZOO!!! u know how bloody expensive it is to get into Aus Zoo? costs me almost $50 per person... That's comparing apples with apples coz both zoos use admission fees for conservation efforts and wildlife research (or so i would think for SG zoo).

Pandemonium said...


Actually I agree. Unfortunately, I see this kind of methodology employed so many times in newspapers and even by government bodies (like during two fare hikes ago, the PTA gave a figure of a family of four's monthly transport expenditure which disagreed with many's realistic numbers). And worse, they don't really say how they come about to their figures.

I mean, if in those Australian attractions, we factor in food costs, then it may reach the same level, due to high cost of food in Australia (but this then implies that more than half the cost comes from the food). But then there is the culture there of packing sandwiches for meals (at least I did), so how do we compare then?

Indeed, using ticket prices is probably the best, but well, let's just say I'm too lazy to hunt down the relevant information.

Pandemonium said...


Is that so? Hmm... okay I've never been to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo before... Maybe that is a more justified comparison. But then again, SI is more focussed on conservation (at least from my perception) but Singapore Zoo? Ya, conservation is important, but probably not as high a priority as SI.

And I can't really compare since I've never been to SI, and the last time I stepped into Singapore Zoo was like 15 years ago. And then the two zoos have different focuses in terms of the animals they have there.

peeenk said...

You folks are aware that the Singapore Zoo is one of the top 5 Zoos in the world, right?

And if you wanna talk about comparing similar attractions, let's just compare tourist attractions in Singapore.

Admission into the Underwater World & Dolphin Lagoon is S$19.90 per adult and S$12.70 per child.

Compare that to admission to the Zoo which is S16.50 per adult and S$8.50 per child.

Compare also the size of the 2 different attractions, and the variety of wildlife and the various animal shows, anumal interaction and photography.

Oh and don't forget, you still have to pay to enter Sentosa...

And for the price of two Adult Admission to Underwater World (S$40) you can get a ticket to go to THREE parks - Singapore Zoo, Night Safari & Birdpark!

I think that's just fantastic!