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TTG, 23 Jun 2000

Islands get new lease of life

Jun 29 2000

SINGAPORE The Singapore Tourism Board is spending S$280 million to transform three southern isles, writes Margie T Logarta

THE plan to develop Singapore's southern islands will offer visitors a Mediterranean resort-like setting only 17 minutes away by ferry.

The S$280 million (US$162 million) project to take place on St John's, Lazarus and Renget islands will be patterned after Italy's renowned vacation spot, Capri. Target date for completion of the entire project is 2007.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB), which is spearheading the development, has unveiled a blueprint that includes a five-star hotel, three-star beach property, condominiums, bungalows, terraced houses, serviced apartments, a retail and restaurant enclave and a town centre. High-rise structures are not allowed.

The development was part of the national scheme to create more recreational space and commercial opportunities, STB said. Once finished, the islands will be linked through land reclamation and the construction of two causeways.

Another aspect of the project involves creating a resource for the growth and study of tropical flora in a natural environment. The National University of Singapore Tropical Marine Science Institute is helping STB design a programme for the islands that will result in an attraction that is part outdoor laboratory and part nature reserve, allowing Singaporeans and visitors a chance to observe rare plant species.

STB senior director special projects, Ms Pamelia Lee, stressed 80 per cent of the southern islands "will remain in its natural state".

For transport within the islands, the use of bicycles, golf carts or a tramline system similar to San Francisco's is being proposed.

STB expects three per cent and 2.4 per cent of Singapore's seven million arrivals to visit the new attraction as day trippers and overnighters, respectively. It will be promoted to honeymooners, FITs, backpackers, senior citizens and convention delegates.

Management of the five-star hotel has yet to be decided but it will be on a cliff on St John's Island and feature a panoramic view of Singapore.

According to STB, the project will be self-financing, generating an estimated income of S$460 million from land sales. Development of infrastructure is also expected to yield revenue.

STB is keen on encouraging members of the private sector to get involved in the project. Association of Singapore Attractions chairman, Mr Francis Phun, said: "The idea is good because it shows how Singapore continues to reinvent and create new excitement about itself."

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