Singapore is one of the prime destinations in Asia, beginning with its prestigious Changi Airport, Universal Studios Singapore, the Night Safari and the opulent Marina Bay Sands Resort/Hotel complex. Marina Bay is just one of several integrated resorts in Singapore that incorporate hotel accommodations, malls, entertainment centers and casinos. If you’re a first-time visitor to these attractions or returning for more, there are some changes you should know that were made since 2019, so you would at least know what to expect from Singapore’s Integrated Resorts today and onto 2021.
There won’t be any new casinos in Singapore apart from Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) until 2030, thanks to a large 9 billion-dollar investment the two Integrated Resorts committed for expansion which prompted the Singapore government to extend their exclusive casino license rights. The investments are tied to expansions such as the addition of a fourth tower to the Marina Bay Sands Resort and additional attractions to Universal Studios Singapore.
Aside from the fourth tower, the expansions will result an additional of 2000 sq. m of casino area for Marina Bay and 500 sq. m for Resorts World Sentosa. Non-gaming visitors would have to cope with a decrease in non-gaming areas. With additional gaming areas, there would also be an increase on entry levies. Singapore permanent residents and citizens would have to be charged with additional fifty percent to existing entry levies which began August 2019. For those unfamiliar, Singapore highly regulates vices for its citizens. This should not be much of a concern for international tourists but could result in a decrease in local customers.
Another result of the expansions are increased casino tax rates to be imposed by the government as part of the exclusivity agreement for the two IRs. The tax rates which will be imposed starting 2022 using a tiered approach. An additional 8% tax will be charged by the government in the first 2.4 billion gross gaming revenue and 18 percent when the revenue reaches 3.1 billion.
One exciting development for Singapore tourists in 2021 is the highly anticipated February opening of Super Nintendo World Singapore at Universal Studios and the later addition of Despicable Me-themed Minion Park which will be replacing the Madagascar Park. The Super Nintendo World will be mostly Super Mario-themed, packed with Mario iconography which will be a hit for Nintendo fans and gaming fans in general.
Tourism is expected to benefit from the planned expansion of Marina Bay Sands thanks to an additional 1000 rooms and 15,000 seat arena from the planned fourth tower. Upon completion, these expansion projects are expected to draw an additional 500,000 visitors annually, a 500 million-dollar addition to Singapore’s annual GDP. However, Marina Bay Sands Tower 4 won’t be realized by 2021, which has been further delayed due to the current worldwide pandemic. These expansions however are expected to add up to 5000 new jobs upon completion as well as indirectly add thousands of jobs to the construction market once the projects get started.
Overall, tourism is expected to increase in Singapore by 2021 thanks to these planned expansions and the expected improvement of the global pandemic situation.
$9 billion is going to be invested by the two largest operators of integrated resorts in an attempt to make more world-class attractions available. The proposed improvements will add a fourth tower to the well-known Marina Bay Sands development. There will also be the addition of three more hotels and Universal studios Singapore will also be extended.
Furthermore, the two casinos under the control of Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands development can be expanded. This came after their exclusive rights to operate a casino in Singapore has been extended until 2030. However, this comes at a price because government taxation will be harsher. All of this is an attempt by the government to keep gambling under control. The casino levies of Singapore residents will be increased. Singapore is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for overseas visitors.
The initial investment by IR in 2013 was $15 billion and therefore the nine billion for the new development is almost as much and it will certainly be an important initiative economically. It is precisely because of this large investment and the condition and longevity and certainty which it will provide to the community which was the primary motivating reasons why the government has decided to be lenient and to extend the original exclusivity period for the two casinos and to allow them to continue operations until 2030.
The city fathers have confirmed that they made the new decision regarding the casinos in order to ensure that the proposed new development will continue to remain viable commercially. The new agreements and extended exclusivity rights mean that the current gaming space will increase to 32.500 m3. However, because of the expansion of non-gaming areas the current space which is taken up by gambling operations will actually decrease.
The space occupied by the Maritime Experiential museum will be taken over by the SEA Aquarium Resulting in an Aquarium which is three times bigger than the previous Aquarium. When the new project has been completed there will be a completely new waterfront lifestyle complex and this will include eateries, retail spaces and two hotels. There is a possibility that there will be an unmanned shuttle which will provide a convenient connection between the VivoCity and the resort Island.
Even the most exciting inventions quickly lose their attraction and that is why new experiences will be introduced every year until the expansion project has been successfully completed in 2025. To accommodate the people who are going to be attracted to the area a new one thousand room luxury hotel tower will be erected next to the three towers already on site. This new tower will only have suites. In the future more concerts will be hosted here and therefore an entirely new entertainment area is planned which will hopefully attract more of the big-name artists. In order to make the expansions possible eight acres of state land will be used.
For the younger and politically apathetic generation of Singaporeans, an exciting announcement from the 2019 National Day Rally was the development of the Greater Southern Waterfront, also known as the “Keppel Club BTO”. For sure, there are tons of young, wannabe property gurus camping on the HDB BTO site eagerly waiting balloting to open.
You can think of the GSW as Marina Bay, with two arms, one extending to the left and the other to the right. In the west it ranges for Pasir Panjang, and in the east to Gardens by the bay, the area also extending to include the Sentosa region. The GSW was compared by PM Lee to being like Punggol. But, rest assured, he was only joking!
The Marina South, Harbourfront, and Pasir Panjang are already developed, and they also have a lot of economic and historic significance. In fact, one of the key developments here is that the historical ports of Tanjong Pagar and Pasir Panjang, both used for shipping, are being moved to Tuas Port. The GSW is six times larger than Marina Bay, with a total of 30km of coastline.
Keppel Golf Club: To be Redeveloped into 9,000 private and public homes
The new “Keppel Club BTO’s” will be included in one of the phases of the GSW development. This country club near Telok Blangah has a lease that expires soon, the government wanting to use the site for housing. What’s really exciting for Singaporeans is that some of the units will be public housing (HDB BTOs). You don’t have to be a genius to realise the potential hill, previous investments in Pinnacle@Duxton flats that were bought for $450K being sold for in excess of 1 million. However, when taking in to consideration the value of the land, it’s unlikely that many of the homes to be built will be public. You only have to look at the area, the yachts and the luxury condos, to realise that this area will never be turned into a public housing estate.
Circle Line and New Thomson East Coast Line; New MRT Stations by 2025
Currently, the GRT is not really accessible by MRT. At present, it can only be reached by Pasir Panjang, Labrador Park, Haw Par Villa, and Harbourfront on the Circle Line. By 2023, new access will be available on the East Coast Line in addition to the Circle Line.
Brani Terminal: A Second Sentosa
Pulau Brani, presently home to the Port of Singapore’s Brani Termina, will go the way to Sentosa. Like all the PSA ports, Pulau Brani will be relocated to Tuas. This will ensure that land is freed up, and will be used for new attractions that could include a Universal Studios. To date, confirmed attractions include a “Downtown South”. Plans for this area aren’t that new, initial announcements already have been made more than a year old.
Sentosa is due some redevelopment, with talks in place of how to improve both leisure and infrastructure amenities having started back in 2018. To date, there are 3 new hotels on the island, with more new attraction already confirmed. One of these is at the former site of Underwater World, where Siloso Green, a development of bars, eateries, and shops will be built. This new attraction will come in the form of fake shipping containers, fake containers replacing the real ones that are currently on site!
Old Power Stations
In the next 5 to 10 years, the old power stations between Pasir Panjang port terminal and Labrador Nature Reserve are to be developed. The two disused power stations that date back to the 1950’s and 1960’s will be redeveloped into a lifestyle destination, in a similar way to the already redeveloped St James Power Station. A competition was held by the URA where members of the public could vote on how the power stations would be redeveloped, the winner yet to be announced.
Mini Cable Car at Mount Faber, Possibly by 2023
The final part of the GSW development that made it to the URA Master Plan of 2019 was Mount Faber. The area enjoys an excellent location, but to date is not an area that enjoys high levels of footfall. A cable car is therefore being considered that will bring people up to the top of the hill, the attraction also allowing Singaporeans to access the Southern Ridges and over to Kent Ridge.
Nature Trails, Waterfront Promenade, Rail Corridor, and More
The GSW is how to a surprising amount of nature and greenery, including Kent Ridge Park and Mount Faber. There are no current plans to demolish these natural habitats, in fact, quite the opposite. There are plans to add more trails to connects these green space in the West, South, and East of GSW, the most note-worthy being a trail planned for Pasir Panjang Linear Park. A waterfront promenade is also amongst the URA’s plans, which will line the majority of the Western coast of the GSW. Lastly, on its reopening, the Rail Corridor will run through part of the Greater Southern Waterfront.