25-year old tourist spot Underwater World to cease operations

Haw Par Corporation announced the closure of Underwater World Singapore (UWS), which will cease operations this month on 26 June. The attraction had seen over 30 million visitors during its 25-years of service.

According to The Business Times, in a filing to the Singapore Exchange, Haw Par said that the closure is “not expected to be material to the group's earnings or net asset per share for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2016.”

The attraction will be ceasing operations ahead of the expiry of its lease to facilitate the transfer of the endangered attraction animals which are under the protection of CITES to their new home in Chimelong Ocean Kingdon in Zhuhai, China.

The transfer was approved by authorities in Singapore and China, with the animals relocated last week.

CITES stands for "Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora”.

UWS has seen an increase in competition over the years, with the arrival of Genting’s Resort World Sentosa on the island which in turn added a slew of attractions from an integrated resort, themepark Universal Studios Singapore and competition attractions such as SEA Aquarium and Marine Life Park.

Was this inevitable or preventable?

According to Winnie Pua, managing director of antics@play, UWS’ efforts could have extended beyond new visitor outreach when it came to the attraction’s development and marketing.

“To attract frequent repeat visitors, the offering of F&B, convenience to visit, special occasion marketing and outreach to a greater base besides students need to be considered,” Pua said.

She suggested tapping on accreditation programs which appeal to students as they formed a large customer base. “Young adults may love a café hang-out. Moreover, special occasion locations could have also been carved out for parties and other events,” Pua added.

"Underwater World Singapore has been an iconic part of the city’s attractions landscape for the past 25 years. It has constantly refreshed its offerings to cater to visitors throughout the years, and has provided fond memories for both Singaporeans and visitors," Ranita Sundramoorthy, director of attractions, dining and retail, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said.

While STB decided not to comment on whether marketing and promotional activities had shifted, it added:

"The Singapore Tourism Board’s marketing activities have always been centred around profiling Singapore as a top-of-mind leisure destination for visitors, showcasing the various attractions the city has – from oceanariums to parks and built-attractions. We will continue to work closely with attractions in Singapore to enhance and diversify their offerings, and raise the profile of Singapore as an exciting and vibrant leisure destination," Sundramoorthy said.

To mark its closing, UWS will be providing free admissions to beneficiaries from charity partners it had worked with in the past along with tickets being charged at its 1991 opening ticket price of $9 per adult and $5 per child.