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  The Straits Times 14 Dec 06
Singapore Flyer investor all for third oceanarium
If okayed, attraction will have education centre and 3 exhibits
Krist Boo

Channel NewsAsia 13 Dec 06
Singapore Flyer expected to open on 7 Feb 2008

By Wong Siew Ying

Today Online 14 Dec 06
'Iconic' attraction will draw in tourists
Developers of planned Marina Bay oceanarium highlight project's merits
Jasmine Yin jasmine@mediacorp.com.sg

On Saturday, one day after the Sentosa integrated resort (IR) winner was announced, the people behind the proposed Singapore Oceanarium submitted a letter to the authorities.

In an email to the Economic Development Board and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the consortium of local and foreign investors reiterated its interest to develop a $300-million oceanarium at Marina Bay.

The project has not been given the official go-ahead despite months of talks, supposedly due to the Sentosa IR race. Now that the IR winner has been unveiled, Mr Peter Purcell, managing director of the Orient and Pacific Group, which has a stake in the Singapore Flyer, wants an answer--quick.

He argued that comparing his proposal to the existing Underwater World and Genting's oceanarium plans--all at Sentosa--is like "comparing chalk and cheese".

"We believe there is room for all because each facility will offer the public something quite different. Marina Bay and Sentosa have a different level of appeal and 'catchment' area of local and foreign visitors," he told Today.

He added that his facility--with 30,000 tonnes of water--will be "as large or larger" than those proposed elsewhere.

Yet, there are similarities in the planned Singapore Oceanarium and Genting's Quest Marine Life Park, which will house 700,000 marine creatures in a 30-million-litre lagoon.

For instance, both are playing the education card. The Singapore Oceanarium--which counts Mitsubishi Corporation and the Financial Advisors Standard Bank as partners--hopes to create an education, conservation and research centre. It has roped in institutions such as the National University of Singapore's Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and Tropical Marine Science Institute, as well as Australia's James Cook University and US-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

On its part, Genting plans to allocate up to $30 million a year for internships and outreach programmes. It also intends to place 20 or more postgraduate students from Singapore in research fellowships with eminent marine biologists.

Last Friday, STB chief executive Lim Neo Chian said the company has to "re-assess" its bid. The STB will continue to discuss with them to see if they still want to proceed and what the merits of the project are, Mr Lim said.

But Mr Purcell believes his proposal has an iconic building that would draw tourists.

He said: "The architecture of the Singapore Oceanarium alone will draw many visitors, like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. We believe that (architecture as a factor to woo tourists) was not the case with the Sentosa proposal because of the somewhat obscured (location) of Sentosa island."

There are at least two attractions--a Dolphin Habitat and an Antarctic display--in the pipeline, should the project get the green light. The planned Dolphin Habitat is not a traditional "circus" venue, but a sheltered research environment with discrete public viewing areas.

However, other exhibits would have to "depend somewhat on Genting's plans", Mr Purcell added.

At the end of the day, having two aquatic facilities should be seen as an opportunity rather than a crisis, he said. "We would like to co-operate with Genting to ensure that the public can enjoy diversity, not replication," he added.

When contacted, a Genting spokesperson said it is "premature" to comment on the proposed Singapore Oceanarium. "We do not have enough details at this point."

Channel NewsAsia 13 Dec 06
Singapore Flyer expected to open on 7 Feb 2008

By Wong Siew Ying

SINGAPORE: Here's some good news for those who can't wait to take a spin on the Singapore Flyer at Marina Bay. The giant observation wheel, which measures 165 metres high, is expected to be opened months ahead of schedule on 7th February 2008.

On Wednesday the spindle - the pivot of the wheel - was put into position, a process which took some 12 hours. Weighing 180 tonnes, it took 30 days to ship the spindle from Japan to Singapore. At 25 metres long, the spindle is believed to be the largest equipment to be delivered on the road, requiring a trailer with 120 wheels.

Phil Maddox, General Manager for Technical Services for the Singapore Flyer project, said: "From an operation and mechanical point of view, it's the heart of the wheel concept. It's also the heart of the construction process....this is the major part, after which we start constructing the actual wheel and attaching the capsules at a later date."

Once the construction is over, there will be training for 150 staff who will take care of security, operations and maintenance of the venue. Some 82,000 square feet of retail and dining space have been set aside at the venue.

The developer says it has already received numerous enquiries about the rental of retail and F&B space there. It expects a healthy take-up during the retail launch over the next two months.

Patsy Ong, Exclusive Sales, Marketing and Distribution Agent, said: "We are looking at pricing it below market rate, because at the end of the day, the tenants themselves have to do well. We want them to do well, so that the turnover of tenants will be low and we are looking at them as being our partners."

Peter Purcell, Managing Director for the Singapore Flyer project, said: "What we are saying to them is, we are not looking to maximize rental value because the rent from the retail centre is not a major component here. What we are saying is, we want something fresh, alive, different."

In the weeks ahead, the developer will start promoting the Singapore Flyer to tour operators and tourists, especially those from China. The S$240 million Singapore Flyer is expected to open during the Chinese New Year period in 2008, coinciding with celebrations at Marina Bay.

It is part of the government's plan to revamp the area which will include the integrated resort, a new bridge, gardens and financial centre. All these will be ready in the next few years. - CNA/ir

The Straits Times 14 Dec 06
Singapore Flyer investor all for third oceanarium
If okayed, attraction will have education centre and 3 exhibits
Krist Boo

WOULD three oceanariums be one too many for Singapore? One investor thinks not.

Mr Peter Purcell, the man behind the Singapore Flyer, wants to go ahead with his proposal to build a Singapore Oceanarium at Marina Bay, despite the fact that Genting International's successful Sentosa integrated resort bid will mean the construction of the world's largest oceanarium here.

In fact, he believes it will draw two million visitors a year - 400,000 more than Underwater World's current annual total - and make enough to cover an upfront $40 million grant to local marine research.

His 4ha attraction will be half the size of Genting's Resorts World at Sentosa and is likely to have a 30-year lease. He has surveyed four sites recommended by the Government at Marina Bay.

The facility will have an education centre and three exhibits: an Antarctic habitat, a tropical marine habitat and a dolphin lagoon the size of 10 Olympic pools.

If approved, it would open around mid-2010, just months behind the two integrated resorts.

Mr Purcell handed in his plans to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) a few months ago and is now waiting for the all-clear.

In an interview, he said tourism officials were 'very interested' in his idea but had asked him to wait until the end of the Sentosa integrated resort race, as two of the three bidders had proposed massive oceanariums.

Genting, which won the bid last Friday, is planning an 8ha marine attraction with 700,000 marine creatures such as bat rays, dolphins and sharks. Genting's win has already put the survival of Sentosa's Underwater World in doubt.

But Mr Purcell stressed that his venture would be more than just a tourist attraction. He said: 'This is more an education-driven than a strictly tourism-driven venture. Whereas we welcome cooperation with the STB, there are other ministries that are far more committed and far more involved in what we are doing.'

The Economic Development Board (EDB), he said, is backing his plan, which he says will bring $300 million in direct foreign investment. EDB yesterday declined comment, citing ongoing discussions.

Mr Purcell said his stakeholders include Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi and private investors living here.

With plans to tie up with researchers at the National University of Singapore, EDB is also supporting his idea to have the oceanarium double as a research facility, he said.

As yet, he has no operating partner, but plans to rope in academics and experts from the reputable Okinawa and Osaka marine parks to form his first management team.

Mr Purcell was confident his attraction could beat off competition from Underwater World and dismissed Genting's oceanarium as a 'by-the-way' attraction for gamblers and visitors to Universal Studios.

However, he said he would tweak his design, if Genting would collaborate with him to avoid head-on competition.

Genting's response to the offer was that it is 'always exploring opportunities' to work with tourism players here.

Asked what he would do if the authorities rejected his plan, Mr Purcell said: 'C'est la vie. We will go and do it somewhere else.'

Related articles on Southern Islands Development Plans including the Sentosa IR
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