Limited impact of Sentosa oil spill on tourism in Singapore

Indian agents say clients cautious, but no cancellations
2024-06-18
/
/ New Delhi
Limited impact of Sentosa oil spill on tourism in Singapore
Limited impact of Sentosa oil spill on tourism in Singapore

Sentosa Island, a major tourist destination in Singapore, draws millions of visitors each year with amenities like a casino (Photo: Twitter/WhatsNew2Day)

As an oil slick covers some beaches of Sentosa, an island that is an entertainment hub in Singapore, tourists have been warned to stay out of water. But Indian travel agents say that even though some clients have been curious about the oil spill and cautious, but so far no cancellations have been reported.
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For the last four days, some of the most popular beaches at Sentosa, an island off mainland Singapore, have been closed to public as Singapore faces a rare oil spill caused by a leakage at Pasir Panjang Terminal in the country that is one of the biggest oil refiners in South East Asia.

Sentosa is a leading entertainment hub in the region, being home to Universal Studios, among other attractions and according to news reports oil spill at has had a wider impact beyond the blackened beaches, leading to closure of some business operations and some residents evacuated due to the pungent smell.

According to reports, after a Netherlands-flagged dredger struck a stationary Singapore-flagged bunker vessel on June 14, the oil spill spread from Pasir Panjang Terminal, which is located less than 10 km from the popular tourist island. Officials say that the vessel was no longer leaking oil. 

“All beach activities in and along the waters of our beaches have stopped, and have commenced a cleanup immediately and priority is to minimise impact on the waters and surrounding wildlife. During this period, guests can continue to use Sentosa beaches, but swimming and sea activities on the beaches will not be allowed,” says an advisory on the Sentosa official website.

The statement adds that Sentosa will provide subsequent updates on the Sentosa website in due course.

Sentosa Island, a major tourist destination in Singapore, draws millions of visitors each year with amenities like a casino, the only Universal Studios theme park in Southeast Asia, and upscale housing for the wealthy and expatriates.  The beach closures pose a significant disruption to leisure activities and the island’s reputation as a picturesque getaway.

Though the oil spill and beach closure has also made news amongst the Indian travel trade professionals and led to cautious calls by some tourists, travel agents say so far they have not seen any cancellations due to the spill.

Guldeep Singh Sahni

Guldeep Singh Sahni

“We haven’t had any cancellations so far. I think in general Singapore is not a beach destination for Indian travellers. They visit Singapore for options like Sentosa, Bird Park, Zoo and Gardens by the Bay. Customers have enquired about the spill but when they get cleared on attractions and theme parks open and functioning normally, they continue with their plans,” Guldeep Singh Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Tours and Travels, a Delhi-based company, and co-Chair of FICCI Outbound Tourism Committee, tells India Outbound.

According to reports, yacht businesses have suffered losses, while tourists were left disappointed by the pollution. Three days after the incident, visitors to several beach clubs on the in Sentosa reported that the water was still dark and oily and that there was still a lingering stench. Response teams have reported seeing coated sea snails and other creatures, raising concerns about the wildlife.

Warning signs have been prominently displayed along the affected beaches, advising visitors of the closure and urging them to refrain from entering the water or in the vicinity of the affected beaches, underscoring the urgency of the clean-up efforts.

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