Since opening its doors in 1993, EXO Travel has maintained a steady trajectory of growth. From humble roots as the first foreign-owned company to be granted a tourism license in Vietnam, we’ve become one of the largest and most- trusted DMCs in Asia. Every few years this presence grows with the addition of new countries to our area of operations.
Despite this growth, we have always maintained a steadfast grip on our roots as approachable, in-destination experts who, with the addition of each destination, maintain the same commitment to product innovation, operational efficiency and fail-proof guest services that paved the path to success in the beginning.
Continuing in this tradition, this year we took another step in our journey by adding Singapore into the fold. With EXO Events already launched and plans to open to the FIT market by the end of the year, we can hardly contain our excitement.
Why is Singapore So Exciting?
Singapore is just a business and transport hub, right?
Recent trends in travel in the region indicate otherwise. In addition to its convenient geographic location, making it an easy stopover for travellers to Southeast Asia, Singapore has increasingly gained traction as a holiday destination on its own. In 2015, it topped Lonely Planet’s list of must-visit destinations. The secret is out: Singapore has far more to offer than just business and convenience. Travellers from around the world are lining up to go there.
Naturally, Singapore has two things going for it. First, it’s a quintessential tropical nation. Being just over 140km from the equator, there is very little seasonal variation in weather, with only a vaguely defined ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ season. For the most part, Singapore is open to tourism year-round. This equatorial geography contributes directly to the second natural asset: despite being heavily developed, it’s still incredibly lush. In fact, it’s one of only two major cities in the world to contain a bona fide rainforest within its city limits, bringing entirely new meaning to the phrase ‘concrete jungle’.
Less than a hundred years ago, Singapore was carpeted by one of the most biodiverse rainforests on earth –they even had an endemic species of tiger! Singapore’s name, which comes from the phrase ‘Singa Pura’ or ‘Lion City’, is rooted in a legend of the island’s discovery and subsequent sighting of ‘lions’ on its shores. Even today, despite being one of the world’s most futuristic cities, one can easily get away from it all on a short day trip to explore shadowy jungle interiors crawling with exotic wildlife such as monkeys, giant monitor lizards and other-worldly colugos –Singapore’s very own flying lemur.
Beyond these attributes, Singapore’s natural offerings thin out. The island’s highest point is Bukit Timah Hill, which stands just 164 metres in elevation. Although the island once had abundant coral reefs surrounding it, most of these areas have disappeared due to the surge of industry and Singapore’s claim to having one of the world’s busiest ports. In recognition of these shortcomings, and as a product of Singapore’s staggering financial successes, huge investments have been made to the country’s tourism infrastructure which are now beginning to pay off.
Take Gardens by the Bay, for example. Located just next to Marina Bay, already one of Asia’s most stunning cityscapes, it combines two ultra-futuristic conservatories with a grove of ‘supertrees’ to make one feel almost as though they are surrounded by an advanced alien civilisation. It’s nothing short of magical! If that isn’t reason enough to feel confident in sending travellers to Singapore, there is a slew of other world-topping investments the country has made to bolster its tourism as well.
Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, the Singapore Botanical Gardens, is lauded for both natural and cultural heritage. The man-made island of Sentosa has literally been created from the ground up to offer locals and visitors the ultimate range of activities and attractions; from Universal Studios to artificial beaches packed with imported fine Malaysian sand. Add to that the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and Night Safari, all easily among the world’s finest and most professionally operated animal parks, the world’s tallest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer, and a slew of other attractions. Filling an itinerary with exciting things to see and do in Singapore is a breeze.
But Wait, There’s More!
Those who are ‘in the know’ realise that the real reason to visit Singapore isn’t its ultra-modern infrastructure, amazing attractions or tropical surroundings –it’s the food and culture!
Singapore is the most diverse nation in Southeast Asia. With four official languages, one for each of its substantial ethnic populations: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English, Singapore is a cultural amalgamation that represents the very best of each influence.
Charming ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown, Arab Street, Little India and Kampong Glam are veritable paradises for culture vultures looking to dive headlong into local experiences. At nearly every corner, incredible food offerings await; some are local takes on traditional ethnic dishes and others are entirely unique to Singapore, but nearly all are memorable.
Icing on the Cake
Singapore also boasts some of the world’s most efficient and comfortable transportation. As they say, first impressions are often the most lasting, and that’s an area that Singapore rarely fails to impress. Changi Airport has won the title of best airport in the world 4 years in a row. It’s so impressive that it’s nearly its own tourist attraction!
Even public transportation in Singapore is a pleasure to use. Between its network of trains, buses and reliable government-operated taxis, one can easily access all the major points of interest in Singapore within a very short space of time. This comfort and efficiency makes Singapore an incredibly smooth place to operate tours in.
Who is Singapore For?
Because of its world-class facilities, positive business environment, professional services, widely spoken English and generous offering of hotels, Singapore is one of Asia’s most ideal destinations for MICE programs. It’s one of the few places in Southeast Asia where one can rest assured that high-value bookings will be brought to fruition without delay, complication or inconvenience.
In addition to its efficiency, professionalism and contemporary appeals, Singapore’s central location within Southeast Asia makes it easily accessible for all travellers and a perfect addition to multi-country itineraries. Through our Malaysia and Indonesia-based offices, we can arrange any number of multi-country itineraries with Singapore as a supplementary destination.
EXO is poised to take MICE programs to the next level in Singapore. Combining the country’s cultural and natural allures with its world-class accommodation, venues and flawless transport, we believe Singapore adds a whole new array of choice to our already comprehensive offerings in Asia. With plans of opening EXO Singapore to the FIT market by the end of the year, the bar is set high for our tenth destination.