The empty 7ha plot of land allocated for the tourism development. Photo Credit: Kevin Lim/ST

Netizens question the need of destroying greenery to build another tourism development in Singapore

Come 2026, the promising Jurong Lake District will be receiving a new 7ha integrated tourism development which will feature a hotel, attractions, eateries and shops, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced on Tuesday (16 April).

Currently, the piece of land is empty and sits adjacent Chinese Garden MRT station and the site where a new Science Centre will be built in Jurong Lake Gardens East.

STB made this announcement at its annual tourism industry conference and added that it will be calling for an expression of interest exercise for the development.

Speaking at the conference, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said that with its “unique waterfront environment and location…we envision this area to be transformed into a key attraction from 2026”.

The overall 360ha Jurong Lake District is planned to be Singapore’s second Central Business District, and previously announced plans for the area include a commercial precinct, housing and expanded gardens. It will also be home to the Singapore terminus of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore, and has been set as a car-lite district.

STB chief executive Keith Tan who also gave a speech at the conference told reporters that although Jurong Lake tourism development will be part of the larger precinct, including the neighbouring Science Centre and gardens, its concept will primarily depend on the ideas that is generated from the express of interest exercise.

“So that makes it quite distinctive from some of the other standalone attractions in Singapore,” he noted, mentioning that families with young children will mainly be the target group.

Besides that, facilities for business events may also be part of the development as travellers who mix work and leisure can be expected to visit the Western Business District.

When asked on the location of this new tourism development, Mr Tan explained that the attractiveness of Jurong Lake is the space it offers and the promise of the larger precinct. He added that tourists are already travelling far for certain attractions like the Singapore Zoo in Mandai. “If it is compelling and attractive enough, people will go”.

However, he did agree that many Singaporeans associate words like “far away, industrial estate (and inaccessible” to Jurong area, but the Jurong Lake District is hoping to change this, with efforts by the Government to bring in more businesses and improve connectivity with the rest of the island.

Mr Tan also highlighted that spreading our Singapore’s attractions can help to increase visitors’ average length stay from 3.4 days currently.

“I think with the Jurong Lake District in particular, they will see not just a tourist precinct, not just where tourists go, but where locals go,” he said.

Upon reading this new development, netizens generally were not impressed at all. Commenting on The Straits Times (ST) Facebook page, many of them question the need of having another hotel, eateries and shops in Singapore that will destroying the limited greenery that’s left in the island.

However, some suggested that the Government should build other things like a theme park or casino at Jurong, instead of the regular hotels and malls.