GP Extra Credit: Ten years after their construction, have the Integrated Resorts had a significant impact on Singapore society?

Written by: Jessica Kosasih (19-A5)

Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)

 

Singapore is well-known for many of its structural developments and the Integrated Resorts are one of them. Including the breath-taking Resorts World Sentosa, Adventure Cove, Expo Convention Centers and world-class Casinos, the Integrated Resorts are a sight to behold. Lately, together with plans for building a 4th tower in addition to the current Marina Bay Sands and other expansions, the government has also agreed to extend the exclusivity period for them. This transaction, supported by the government, proves that there are notable benefits to be reaped from the Integrated Resorts. Indeed, the Integrated Resorts have clearly left their significant mark in many aspects of Singaporean life and Singaporean society but this impact they have may be less pronounced in some fields.

 

Firstly, on a national level, the construction of the Integrated Resorts has been significant to Singaporean society as they have attracted both local and foreign interest by providing recreation and entertainment, enriching the local economy. Singaporeans are able to benefit from the overall growth of the local economy such as better public services and reduced government debt. Economic analysis suggests that the Integrated Resorts have led to significant Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in a slowing economic outlook. Not only do attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore and Adventure Cove bring in valuable tourism dollars, locals have also been attracted to this area for entertainment or business purposes. This encourages domestic and international tourism. For instance, convention centers available in Marina Bay Sands are key attractions for Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) visitors — one of Singapore’s key tourist demographics. The Integrated Resorts have increased Singapore’s appeal as a tourism hub and have effectively managed to adapt to the ever-changing tourism and economic landscape. Hence, they have provided a large variety of goods and services while remaining functional to the needs of consumers. As such, the Singapore Tourism Board reported that tourism receipts increase to S$27.1 billion in 2018. On the other hand, critics argue that tourism is merely a segment of the economy which shows that it has a limited scope of impact on Singapore’s society. However, to underestimate the importance of tourism to Singapore’s economy is neglecting the fact that it is one of the fastest growing sectors in Singapore. In a backdrop of a mature economy and slowing growth rates, tourism is one of the main economic pillars of the service industry in Singapore. Therefore, the Integrated Resorts has caused a significant impact on the Singaporean society by providing a multi-faceted appeal for Singapore as a leisure and business destination.

 

In addition to significant economic growth generated from tourism, the Integrated Resorts also provide economic opportunities for Singaporeans to leverage on such as the provision of jobs for locals. While some may argue tourism generated from the Integrated Resorts is limited in its scope of impact as they employ foreign workers, data suggests that more locals benefit from this than foreigners. The Integrated Resorts directly employ about 20,000 people of which more than 65 percent are locals, according to figures from Channel News Asia in 2019. Despite the fact that there would be some foreign workers in a globalised economy like Singapore’s, considering the majority of employees are local, creation of jobs for Singaporeans through the construction of the Integrated Resorts is evident. A lowered unemployment rate also increases the morale of a country’s citizens and lowers crime rates, ensuring that Singapore remains a safe environment for its inhabitants. Therefore, by being a major tourist attraction in Singapore, the Integrated Resorts have revamped the current tourism landscape and contributed to the local economy. This has significantly impacted Singaporeans as many are able to reap the benefits from an increased number of jobs available in the local economy.

 

Unfortunately, the Integrated Resorts have also led to significant social consequences on Singaporean life. The availability and legalisation of gambling in casinos have resulted in certain individuals getting addicted to gambling as well as allowed unscrupulous acts to take place. With the legalisation of a casino, locals are able to access gambling on a large scale in Singapore. The casino is also a lucrative opportunity for illegal activities like money laundering, illegal money lending and organised crime as large amounts of cash are often exchanged in the casino without much supervision. Easy access to casinos could soil Singapore’s reputation as a fair and corrupt-free state. This is also a crucial area of concern for Singapore as gambling addiction commonly increases financial burden on households, or even result in increased levels of violence and crime. As such, the Singaporean society may cease to condemn those who spend large amounts of money on gambling may be eroded. Instead of gamblers hiding in the fringes of society, gambling is now legalised and sometimes glamourised through the gilded decorations in casinos. This has led to an increasing number of people declaring bankruptcy, reaching a four-year peak in 2014 which was four years after the opening of Integrated Resort casinos. Singaporeans have also paid a total of 1.3 billion dollars in entrance fees since 2010 according to the Straits Times figures. The entrance fees signify the large number of local patrons which suggests the scale of gambling in casinos. Furthermore, the growing trend of people being stretched to their financial limits proves that the Integrated Resorts have left a significant negative impact on Singaporean society through the availability of vices like gambling. Thus, the facilities in the Integrated Resorts have left serious repercussions on Singaporeans which are far-reaching since it affects both the Singaporean social culture as well as impacts an individual’s personal finances.

 

 

Following the social impacts of the Integrated Resorts, they have also significantly changed the daily lives of Singaporeans by being a tangible representation of Singapore. In this case, the drastic changes to the natural environment due to the Integrated Resorts construction have also shaped the physical environment. These physical structures would be an image associated with Singapore. For example, the iconic towers of Marina Bay Sands have become a representation of the Singaporean skyline. They were even featured in the Hollywood blockbuster, Crazy Rich Asians, which evoked pride amongst locals by showcasing the Marina Bay Sands area to an international audience. In a constantly changing world, the skyline of Singapore would have continuously transformed. Hence, construction of the Integrated Resorts has impacted their surroundings by remodelling the appearances of the physical landscape. However, some critics argue that constructions and man-made structures are non-permanent, so they should not be of much value to Singaporeans. This is supported by plans of various new infrastructure projects such as Gardens By the Bay and the upcoming expansion of Marina Bay Sands including building an addition of a 4th tower has shown that there is continuous change. However, despite the fact that the Integrated Resorts might be replaced in the future, the mark they leave on Singaporean society will remain significant. This is because, through physical changes, the Integrated Resorts have left a noteworthy mark in a figurative sense. The construction of the Integrated Resorts presents Singapore as a futuristic cosmopolitan city with luxurious infrastructure able to cater to an increasingly capitalist world. The scope of intangible associations with national identity and pride for such impressive structures largely outweighs the impact that they have physically. Therefore, the construction of the Integrated Resorts has significantly impacted Singapore’s society by being a positive representation of Singapore and have literally transformed the Singapore skyline.

 

In essence, the Integrated Resorts have garnered attention locally and on an international level. The recognition they have attained comes from their significant economic and social impacts. While they are arguably just a part of a diverse Singapore, the Integrated Resorts have greatly affected Singaporeans in key aspects of their lives, namely their identity, social values and finance. They have also resulted in significant benefits to Singapore as a nation. To remain relevant in the future, the Integrated Resorts have to continue improving and to make use of up to date technology to retain their appeal. Furthermore, expansions of facilities should also take into account sustainability to ensure long term success and to remain relevant such that their influence can continue to be an important unique piece of Singapore in people’s hearts.

 

This article was written in the author’s personal capacity. Views, opinions, and thoughts expressed in all articles published on The Origin* belong solely to the author(s), and do not represent the values or ethos of The Origin* or the College.

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