Despite its popularity today, Jewel Changi Airport (Jewel) had seen “innumerable doubts” about whether it would take off, according to Singapore Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong at the official opening on 18 October 2019. However, he said that the complex has come to become one of the “instantly recognisable icons of Singapore”.
Concerns included whether Jewel would be able to break through the clutter of shopping centres in the East and if the project would distract Changi Airport Group (CAG) from its core mission of running an airport. Jewel took almost 10 years to come into fruition, according to PM Lee, who first announced it publicly at the National Day Rally in 2013.
Back then, PM Lee said the cabinet had done some message testing with focus groups, but they were “not enthusiastic”. Despite resistance from those who thought it was unwise to end the speech with an infrastructure project as it was “too cold, impersonal”, he decided to press on. PM Lee explained that Jewel and Changi Airport were not only an infrastructure story. “They represented an idea; they were a symbol. They epitomised how Singapore, here, we must dream boldly to create possibilities for ourselves,” he said.
PM Lee, who recorded his National Day Message at Jewel in August this year, said the place has been “gushed over” by foreign leaders he has spoken to as well as media outlets such as the New York Times, which has featured Jewel in an article describing how visiting Singapore was “a trip to the future”.
He added: “This is remarkable, because usually tourists want to leave the airport as soon as they can.”
In Singapore, Changi Airport is a tourist attraction in itself, and Jewel has enhanced that reputation and appeal.
More than half a million signed up for pre-opening visits at Jewel and since then the number of visitors has grown hugely to around 50 million, many of whom are repeat customers, said PM Lee. Jewel has also increased the competitiveness of Changi Airport, which saw 65 million travellers, including those on transit, last year. Concluding his speech, PM Lee said he is “confident” that with Jewel, Changi Airport will break that record this year.
Jewel has been all the rave from its jaw dropping waterfall to mouth-watering F&B outlets. Since Jewel opened its doors in April, several brands have been adding special twists to their stores and marketing efforts, including a cafe launch by contemporary footwear business PAZZION, a Peranakan-inspired concept store by FairPrice Finest, and art intallation by SHISEIDO Travel Retail. Manulife Singapore had also secured naming rights to the Sky Nets attraction at Jewel. However, several tenants told news outlets one month after the mall opened its doors in May that traffic has started to dwindle and snaking queues were getting shorter.
Meanwhile, CAG has been working hard to extend the longevity of the buzz with a brand film and launch of animated stickers featuring illustrations of the “first visitors” — the Pacific swallow and its ladybug companion. Showcasing the various offerings at Jewel, the stickers areavailable for use on GIPHY and can be used on Instagram Stories and other social media platforms. Most recently, in August, CAG partnered Singaporean singer-songwriter, JJ Lin on his latest composition – The Right Time (对的时间点).
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