Jewel at Changi Airport has become an “instantly recognisable icon” in Singapore, said PM Lee Hsien Loong at the official opening on Friday (18 October), which also happened to be the 10th Aniversary of the Changi Airport Group (CAG).
Since it’s opening just six months ago, Jewel has helped bolster Changi Aiport’s reputation and competitiveness, said Mr Lee, adding that it has enhanced the appeal of the airport as a tourist destination itself.
Foreign leaders the prime minister has spoken to have also “gushed” over the S$1.7 billion complex, said Mr Lee.
“Last year 65 million travellers used the airport, including those on transit,” he noted.
“I am confident that with Jewel, this year Changi will break that record”.
According to statement by Changi Airport Group and as noted by the Prime Minister, Jewel has seen over 50 million visitors since it opened in April, with Mr Lee saying that Singaporeans are “rightly” proud of the complex. CAG said that Jewel has had as many as 300,000 local and international visitors a day.
“It resonates with Singaporeans because it reminds us that when we dream big and apply ourselves, nothing is impossible.”
He said that Changi Airport is special to Singaporeans as it is a reflection of the nation’s journey from third-world to first-world status.
“Who would have imagined that when we decided to shift our airport from Paya Lebar to Changi, that one day we would make it the best airport in the world,” he said.
Mr Lee recounted how back in 2013, he was trying to decide whether to talk about Jewel and other Changi Airport plans in his National Day Rally speech for the year. He noted that focus groups were not enthusiastic over the idea of ending an NDR speech with an infrastructure plan, that it would be too cold and impersonal.
However, Mr Lee did it anyway, explaining that he wanted people to understand that Jewel and Changi Airport were about more than just infrastructure.
“Instead they represented an idea; they were a symbol. They epitomised how in Singapore, we must dream boldly to create new possibilities for ourselves,” he said.
“It was an act of faith to believe that Changi could do this and that Singaporeans, working together, could make amazing things happen,” he added.
He said that in the end, Jewel was what people remembered from his speech that year.
In their statement, CAG announced a new light and sound show which was unveiled at the 40-metre HSBC Rain Vortex set to the newly released ‘As I Believe’ by Mandopop star JJ Lin. Apart from that, a new 2.5 hours complimentary walking tour of the complex has been introduced which will take travellers through Jewel for a closer look at the architecture and local food samplings, ending with a free entry into the canopy park.
Sceptical about the number of visitors so far
Entrepreneur-photojournalist and founder of Makansutra KF Seetoh shared a photo on his Facebook page of a newspaper article about Jewel attracting more than 50 million visitors in its first six months and asked if that figure ‘includes ants’.
Mr Seetoh appears surprised at the volume of people that Jewel sees in a day, of about 280,000.
Several netizens shared Mr Seetoh’s scepticism in the comments section of the post, saying that maybe the 50 million visitors include the tens of thousands of staff who walk in and out of the complex every day and people who walk out for a smoke before coming back in:
One commenter pointed out that the number of visitors doesn’t equate to the revenue that outlets in Jewel make per day:
Even so, there were a couple of people who took a positive spin on Jewel, praising the development of the airport as a tourist attraction.