Tourism in a 'Borderless' World: The Singapore Experience


T. C. Chang

Asia Pacific Issues, No. 73


Honolulu: East-West Center

Publication Date: May 2004
Binding: paper
Pages: 8
Free Download: PDF


The development of tourist destinations that transcend national borders, first envisioned in the 1950s, gained momentum in the 1990s. Whether facilitated by large regional organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or bilateral agreements, countries--especially smaller ones--have worked to identify and leverage their neighbor's strengths. Singapore, for example, adopted a national tourism plan based on the concept of "borrowed attractiveness." It has compensated for its limited natural resources and high costs by collaborating with Indonesia and Malaysia, which contribute cheaper labor and land in exchange for infrastructure, financing, and expertise. The city-state also aggressively sells its tourism expertise overseas and aspires to be Asia's tourism hub. But Singapore's experience demonstrates that regional tourism, while diversifying tourism development opportunities, can also perpetuate inequities between wealthier and poorer collaborators and present serious challenges to businesses operating in unfamiliar settings.