Tourism is such a hard slog these days. Exotic TVCs (tv commercials) and glossy brochures are just not enough when Australians are travelling more and looking to be challenged with new adventures. Established markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand are having to work harder to attract repeat visitors. On one side, relatively affluent counties such as Malaysia and Korea are throwing big budgets to lure visitors, while at the other extreme, developing countries like Vietnam and increasingly Cambodia and Laos are pulling in tourists looking for the rustic, raw, in-your-face adventure.
The fact is, while the US and Europe are in recession, the Australian economy continues to perform strongly. Armed with a virile Australian dollar, we’re travelling more than ever making us a very attractive target for our Asian neighbours.
Korea is using K-pop, fashion and the coming 2018 Winter Olympic Games, while Malaysia is deploying food through the Malaysia Kitchen juggernaut to attract our attention.
Sandra Leong, Oceania Area Director of the Singapore Tourism Board admits the Australian market is very important, last year almost 1m Australians visited Singapore, a 9% increase. “Aussies have a great appetite for travel and are always ready to discover new experiences” says Leong.
Singapore Takeout is part of a cheeky, ambitious new marketing campaign designed to grab the attention of Australia and the world. This co-ordinated campaign is about attracting repeat visitors, reminding them there’s so much more depth to Singapore than what they’ve experienced in the past.
The “Get Lost and find the real Singapore” advertising campaign challenges visitors to discover a renewed sense of excitement and adventure in Singapore. And these ads are cheeky, Leong says “by appealing to the celebrated Australian sense of humour, we hope the campaign will grab the attention of Aussie travellers and make them realise there is so much more to the Singapore of today” (TVC below).
Singapore Takeout, a travelling pop-up kitchen is about allowing Australians to see, touch and feel this new Singapore proposition – through food. Sydney is the last stop in this worldwide tour of nine countries, that started in London on 9 June 2011 and included Paris, Moscow, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Delhi and Dubai.
A different chef leads the event in each country. In Sydney it’s Ignatius Chan of Iggy’s, arguably the most-feted dining establishment in Singapore, ranked 27th in the San Pellegrino Worlds 50 Best Restaurants 2011 (just pipped by Gilmore’s Quay at 26th) and listed 1st in the Miele Guide 2011/12 Asia’s Top 20 restaurants. Chan was chosen because of his link to Australia; Tetsuya Wakuda is a friend who also collaborated in the event, Chan also works with Phillip Jones of Bass Phillip who produces Iggy’s Pinot Noir and Iggy’s Reserve.
In a vote of confidence in Aussie food bloggers, Singapore Takeout held a “bloggers-only” event – the only one of any Singapore Takeout city. The organisers brought in 22 food bloggers from across Australia, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and of course, Sydney. Leong says “the blog scene is thriving in Australia and never more so among foodies. We knew if we reached food bloggers, the Takeout message would reach thousands more who were genuinely interested in food… As a tourism board, we recognise the important role social media can play in influencing opinions and attitudes so for us it was a no-brainer to host a blogger-only event. We are exceptionally proud that Sydney has been the only city to host a bloggers-only event”.
And true to the ‘get lost’ campaign, Chan served up a menu to illustrate a different, more modern Singapore, each dish a tribute to a different culture of this diverse country.
This Malay dish is served in a glass cup with each component layered and covered in a flavoursome froth. Tasty, intriguing and stunning presentation, but our table kept on asking of the nasi lemak “where’s the sambal?”.
A nod to the modern Singapore and perhaps to Chan’s friendship with Tetsuya Wakuda, Iggy’s variation replaces rice with a soy meringue – “look mum no need for wasabi and sauce”! Delicate, light, super clean sushi, though I would have preferred the rice as a substantial balance.
Cold cappellini is a perfect dish for a an Australian summer, this cold noodle dish is a tribute to Chinese New Year Yu Sheng (raw fish salad). Faultless, so many delicate flavour working in harmony. It went down perfectly with my glass of Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc,2011.
Wagyu beef is an obvious inclusion for Sydney. Here, the beef is slow cooked in wine so that it’s amazingly tender and moist. Definitely for those who enjoy rich, deep flavours. Chan leaves this, the richest savoury dish ’til last.
Kaya toast & teh tarik is a modern approach to a popular Singapore breakfast, one which I must admit, I’m not familiar with. Though I am familiar with the delicious teh tarik “pulled milk tea” and love it in the ice-cream execution here.
Singapore Takeout is a pretty flawless execution of the new marketing proposition for Singapore – punters need to get lost to find the exciting, irreverent soul underneath. I love the way they invest in experiential programs like this to allow both trade and the public to experience a different side of Singapore. The bloggers only event shows they recognise the power of social media and Australia’s fascination with all things food, so a big tick here, too. Call me a grumpy old man, but I would have been perfectly happy to chomp on a good Singapore chilli crab, snack on nasi lemak with lashings of sambal while sipping a tiger or a glass of teh tarik.
Another thing this grumpy old man is sure about as a result of this event – I’ll be putting Singapore on my wishlist to visit in 2012.
Singapore Takeout: Bloggers-Only Event, Sydney (13 Mar 2012)
7-27 Circular Quay West, The Rocks, Sydney
Noodlies, Sydney food blog was a guest of Singapore Takeout and the Singapore Tourism Board.