Tourism Essay Paper on Food Tourism in Singapore

Food Tourism in Singapore

1.      Introduction

Research studies indicate that over the last decade, food consumption has become more than just nourishment. In many circumstances, it has offered a social purpose of pleasure and entertainments to extend of creating role in international tourism (Zhang Y, 2009, 78). Most of the international tourists are now pursuing unique and memorable eating experiences. The focus on most of the tourists has elevated from just the classic of “must see” as monuments to “must experience” the tangible part of the food culture (Andereck, K. 1994, 180). In other words, food has become a very important aspect to penetrate into other people’s culture. It provides the individual with an opportunity to experience the “Other side of the culture not only on the sensory level but also the intellectual part. This proves food as a fundamental component of destination attraction. The authenticities of the surrounding together with the presentation of the food are the major ingredients of the food tourism. In most circumstances, the tourists engage in presentation and sampling of the various global food types.  In Singapore, most of the tourists enjoy dinning the local cuisine while others watch the local market scenes. As observed by the escalating trend, this paper aims to provide a proper framework and guideline required for developing and implementing food tourism that will enable Singapore to optimize the food tourism potential for both local and regional food (Weekend Festival Promises Dubai’Uniquely Singapore’ Experience 2007, 4). The paper also extends to provide several innovative case studies of how food has become a motivating factor for tourists to visit Singapore as well as evaluation of the overall satisfaction of the trend.

2.      Literature Review

Today, the development of tourism is paradoxical. The activity simultaneously enhances the appreciation of local treasures and generates the process of globalization. In many circumstances, it is always the mandate of tourism sector to struggle to retain its market share in the competing world of tourism that is increasingly dynamic and sophisticated. Arnold, W. 2000 in his tourism, the documentary reveals that in recent years the food tourism has become a basic component of the tourism move. It is the art that embodies all the traditional values and respect culture that is associated with the new trends in tourism. Likewise, food tourism provides an opportunity to promote local economic development and revitalize the tourism sector (Williams, 1987, 112). This development has been possible by the continuous leading role of the gastronomy thus resulting in the growth of tourism consumption centers that are offering high quality food products. The idea of food tourism thus is in a position to address culinary heritage by rationally leveraging it to provide sustainability. Further studies indicate that the idea of gastronomy is capable of addressing both the cultural and environmental concerns in a manner that is compatible with economic terms (Lye, V. 2000, 4).  

From the economic point of view, The World Tourism Organization (WTO) reveals that by the end of 2017 over one billion international tourist will have explored the world. The World Travel and Tourism Council study estimates that tourism results to about $ 745 billion investments, 255 billion jobs and $6 trillion global GDP.  Recent research analysis continues to reveal that most of the tourists spend approximately 40% off their budget on food. This trend reveals that there is a symbiotic relationship between tourism industry and food. The 2010 Restaurant and Foodservice Market Research indicate that with increasing interest in local cuisine, more tourism attraction centers are focusing on food as their core product. Documentary analysis indicates that Singapore is a highly developed nation with a free market economy. The government usually adopts a capitalist system coupled with authoritarian control. As revealed, from the year 1960s to date, Singapore economic growth has accelerated steadily due to a combination of both physical and non-physical infrastructure that attracts foreign investors.  Using the efficient airport, excellent telecommunication facilities and large number of English speaking people, the country is trying its best to attract a conventional tourism business (Chapter 1: Industry Profile – 1.3 Singapore’s Hotel Industry2010).

Within Asia and Pacific, statistical analysis reveals that Southeast Asia records the highest growth in international tourism that is 10% of the total. In absolute terms, Singapore follows closely with about 7% with a record of double digit experienced in 2010-1011.    During these traveling periods, majority of the visitors visit Singapore for either business or for holiday. (Li, Y. 2000, 250). In 2012, travel and tourism provided 17.8 billion to the Singaporean GDP of which was expected to increase by about 5.3 % in the year 2013.  As a result, over 70% of the global countries have created zeal to devote themselves to tourism development in order to improve their national economy.  As the gastronomic tourism expands among nations and proving to be one of the lucrative businesses, countries such as Singapore have taken advantage in order to achieve their economic development. Singapore is a highly developed nation with unique product, culture and a successful free-market economy. Since its separation from Malaysia, the city-state adopted a pro-foreign investment economy that was combined with strategic government directed investments in order to experience the current economic status. Today, the country has earned a positive reputation as one of the best intricately and efficiently tourist planned nation in the world (Department Statistics of Singapore 2008).

2.1  History of Food Tourism

The exploration of food tourism would be inadequate without covering the evolution of the food tourism.  Gastronomy emerged in a poem published in 1804 by Frenchman called Jacques Berchoux.   In his simple terms, he defined gastronomy as an art of enjoying food and drink to the best. Before the definition, the term “gastronomy” encompasses an extensive association with various issues related to food thus ubiquitous and extremely difficult to define. Finally, in the year 1835, the term gastronomy was incorporated in the French dictionary to elaborate n the art of food eating. According to Kang 2001, after two centuries of discovering the term gastronomy, one of the renowned Greek writer referred as Athnee began his extensive writing on food, drink and lifestyle. Just as many authors of those days, Athnee expounds mainly on how food was celebrated exclusively in those days. In his jurisdiction, the writer defined gastronomy as a reflective cooking, eating as well as maintaining association with fancy foods and drinks (Dwyer 2000, 14).

As time progressed, the Middle Ages Italians dedicated themselves in exploring and incorporating the art of gastronomy in most of the basic facets of life such as medicine and agriculture. Basically, food was regarded as a basic part of living. By the year 1920, the ancient gourmet literature to guide tourist on the local foods was published in France. The development of food tourism started when people when people engaged in recreational, economic and military activities. In 15th century, England began to offer commercial establishments dealing with food. By the end of 18th century, tourism activities further flourished to expand on the number of business activities that offering commercial food. As a result, development of more cafes, restaurants and boarding facilities to cater for the increased economic activities was experienced in these areas.  Today, the art of food incorporates multiple functions especially in social settings and has captured the lifestyle of and cultures of many people across all corners of the world. Sharing of food is held as social phenomena of togetherness and reaffirms insiders as socially similar people.  Across all cultures food related events are carried out in array of styles.  It is at this century where eating out is regarded as entertainment, pleasure and a basic component of a social lifestyle (Emmons, N. 2002, 4).

2.2  Singapore Cuisine Industry

Documentary analysis on pioneer studies reveals that Singaporean cuisine is an art of cultural diversity, its culture mainly originated from the former great Malaysia. Most of the food tourism art are influenced by the native Malay predominated by the Indonesia, Chinese and Western traditions among others (Fondness D, 1999). As result of influence from different nations, it is obvious that the food culture of Singapore is mainly dictated by the globalization phenomena. Most of the prepared food stuffs of variety ingredients such as ghee, turmeric and tamarind that are used to make variety of foods ranging from Malay food, to Japanese and to Korean food. These food courts used to dine the foods include Newton food centre, and Lau Pa Sat. according to the Singaporean culture, food is viewed as unifying cultural thread and an emblem of national identity. The Singaporean literature explores and declares food eating as a national pastime and obsession.  The cultural and religious strict fixtures do not really exist except in few instances where Muslims and Hindus do not eat pork and beef respectively. Meanwhile in many instances, people of different Singaporean cultural backgrounds usually dine together by choosing a type of food that is accepted by all to signify unity. As observed, the Singaporean cuisine culture advocates for all people irrespective of the cultural identity and religious belief (Martha, S. 1997).

As a result of the positive trend observed in the Singapore cuisine industry, the government through the Singapore Tourism Board has decided to promote the move as a tourist attraction site.  The multiculturalism food trend and the availability of the international cuisine and styles have been used to create “a food paradise” to the local and international tourists. Furthermore, the high population density and limited land resource further pushes the nation to search for alternative sources of food economic development to the nation.  Singapore geographical location connects promptly with the major airline and seaport routes thus allowing for trading on major food ingredients across the globe. The positive culture of the population has also promoted the food industry to greater levels. For instance, during weeding all the practices were coupled with different foods served at different occasions. One of the most conspicuous practices was that food was served as the provision of the present item of “egg flower” presented to the departing guests. These lovely egg flowers were presented to symbolize fertility. These strategies indicate how the food tourism has been integrated in the physical and intercultural development strategies to achieve its current status (Ramchandani, N. 2012, 304).

   2.3 Food Tourism Image

Historically, food tourism has received quite limited attention in the academic context. Using some limited valuation, the study have always centered on tourism motivation, destination image and scanty economic impacts. Through the motivation, intention and experiences that have been made by most culinary tourists, the field of gastronomy has intrigued varied levels of interest.  Themes such as improving the image of food production by varied nations are now a common theme of interest. To improve the image of a local cuisine, variety of foods can be one of the potential ingredients in providing strong competitive advantage to prove significant economic benefits.  The strong economic benefit s generated by the strong food tourism image is regarded as a strong component in tourism consumption (Dawes, J 2008, 33).

        2.4 Marketing Singaporean Food Tourism Image

Today, food tourism has become one of the major factors to the continuous burgeoning Singapore economy (Lye, V. 2000, 32). The government through its treasury allocates over $2 billion dollars to support the sector and upgrade its infrastructure. It is important to understand that one of the reasons why the Singapore food tourism has spurred to such great levels is due to its sophisticated, creative and elusive characteristics. Most of the foods are cooked to produce an exciting aroma while being served in the stretched table of ancestral portrait. As observed the cooked food can be categorized into four main classes comprising of home based food, stall based food, restaurant based and banquet based food.  All the four types of foods are great sources of tourism attraction (Clemons, 2002, 452). The banquet and restaurant are more elaborate and use more and expensive ingredients while the stall food and home based food are relatively simple to cook for both the family and special festivals.  According to the research survey the largest demographic age that visited the cuisine, areas were mainly of 30-34 years that represented approximately 40% of the total population visits. This makes the past decade to be one of the best Singapore cuisine performances to achieve 4% of the total Gross domestic product to the nation (Department Statistics of Singapore 2008; Ramchandani, N. 2012).

3.      Methodology

    3.1 Research design

In order to explore exhaustively culinary tourism in Singapore, a predominantly qualitative triangulation approach of data collection was preferred.  A survey was conducted by the researchers to determine the various elements concerning food tourism in Singapore. A data was collected through administered survey questionnaires.   A questionnaire consisting of twenty questions was used in developing the research instrument. The questions were designed using close and open-ended technique. The questions were formulated in English for the convenience of the tourist visiting Singapore. Respondent’s Participation in the research was made voluntary with assurance of confidentiality to all participants. A pilot test was completed prior to the data collection process in order to avoid ambiguity and ensure consistency in the formulation of the questions. A strong and valid rational exist to support the choosing of qualitative methodological approach to carry out this project. First is the nature of the project that is grounded in the real world study that encompasses the study and interpretation of the real world social paradigm. Second, most of the formulated project questions ask for “what?” and “how?” to qualify the inquiry of what’s going on in the food tourism industry in Singapore (Pacific Asia Travel Association 2008, 13).


3.1  Population

The target population for this project comprised of the individuals who visited some of the regions in Singapore exclusively for cuisine tourism from July 2014 through to October 2014.  The areas that were selected for study include China town street food area and Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. These sampled areas were selected since they account for some of the highest turnout of tourists interested in cuisine in Singapore. During the months of July through to October a total of about 4 million people visit these areas that comprise of about 40% of Singapore total visits. This population was provided with questionnaire based on the food tourism. Among the captured areas of food tourism that were included in the questionnaire comprised of the physical, cultural, economic and prestigious or status trends of cuisine tourism (Ramchandani, N. 2012).  

3.2  Sampling Frame

To give a sense and manage the study, a study frame structure was formulated. The region studies were conducted as a single unit. In each area, two to three sites were selected with specific interest on the topic. These areas included beaches, shopping areas, and visitor’s centers. Since these areas do not have same number of the visitors, an appropriate stratified sampling technique was selected to provide an equal representation of the study from each region (Fodness, D. 1994, 563; Singapore Food & Drink Report – Q3 2011). Based on the average of these data collected, the average proportion of each stratum to the overall was calculated. The analyzed sample adhered to gender equity by providing a 50% female and 50% male participation. The majority of the respondents mainly belong to the age group of 25-40 years. To achieve better results, visitors who have had several visits to these areas were given priority unlike the first visitors (Channel News Asia 2009, 6; Mansfield, Y. 2006).

4.0 Research Findings and Results Presentation/Discussion

 4.0.1 Background Case Study

            In this research, it was necessary to conduct a case study to gather the opinions of individuals who have had the opportunity to interact with food tourism in the hospitality industry in Singapore. This was important in verifying the secondary data collected and information gathered on the impact of food tourism on the hotel business. Three five star restaurants within China town street food area and Maxwell Road Hawker Centre were selected for the study. The areas were selected since they attract various tourists during the season. Data gathered on the hotel’s food tourism was equally essential in generating conclusions on the impact food tourism on businesses in the hospitality industry (Dwyer 2000, 14).

4.2 Presentation of the primary data

4.2.1 Areas of food experience

The results of the survey on the areas of food tourism experience revealed that Singapore is one of the best destinations for gastronomy. The findings also revealed some of the important activities that most of the tourist engage in while carrying out the gastronomy that contributes to the visitors overall experience.  The data analysis of the respondent experience with the local food tourist sites were tabulated in the graph below.

Areas of food tourism experience Percentage of experience
Buffet nights 76%
Local restaurants 13%
Cultural shows 9%
Festivals 1%
Cookery classes 1%

The above resulted was presented in the graph below

4.2.2 Factors of Interest

In view of the above table more than a half of the respondents (54%) preferred the development of the Singapore as one of the potential food tourist’s attraction sites. Statistical analysis revealed that 76% of the resorts play a vital role influencing and promoting the local cuisine. However, lower percentage of about 30% of the respondents believe in the government efforts to market and promote that local cuisine in Singapore, thus majority advocated for the further promotion strategies.  The participants were also interrogated on their preferences during the Holidays and the graph below represents the top five important issues (Dwyer 2000, 14).


Important Factor Percentage Response
Rich history and Heritage 40%
A secure Destination 32%
Good food and local cuisine 13%
Natural environment and world class beauty 11%
Quality accommodation 3%
Others 1%





4.3 Presentation of Secondary Data

To explore the secondary study on the Singapore cuisine industry, an explorative study was also conducted on the various textbooks, journals and articles to reveal some of the important aspects related to the Singapore tourism industry.  These secondary data sources were evaluated to establish the history and extend of Singapore cuisine industry.

4.3.1 Books/ journals/articles

Various secondary sources that relate to the various delicious meals prepared in the Singapore industry were reviewed.  Tourists were asked to evaluate their best meals and the data presented and analyzed. The articles also revealed why Singapore tourism has been regarded as the best Cuisine destination site across the globe. Their responses were positively accepted and graded as stipulated by the results analysis (Dwyer 2000, 14).

5. Limitations

There are several issues that may have negative influence on the results of this study. First, is the chosen sample size which is relatively large yet only specific areas chosen, this approach may eliminate some of the important issues. The second aspect is the limited time frame that has been dedicated to the study. This period may only allow the important subjects to be sampled for convenience.  These limitations thus call for further research on the areas that were not captured properly (Li, X 2008, 291: Glassier, D. 2003; Glassier, 2003).   

6.  Conclusion and Recommendations

Gastronomy as discovered by many researchers is an emerging concept in Singapore. As evidenced many of the Singaporean resorts have started focusing on the best ways of enhancing the visitors experience in the cuisine resorts (Singapore Food & Drink Report – Q1 2012).  Strategically, the promotion and development of the food tourism may act as an important element in diversifying the economic base and promoting the national pride. This promotion may also help in preserving the culture and the tradition of the Singaporean community. Further as evident by the high growth rate of the gastronomy sector, the approach may act as an important differentiating factor to spur the growth of the untapped potential in the entire Singapore tourism industry.



Dear Respondents,

The following questions were formulated in this project to help in understanding the state of Cuisine business and the various development strategies that may be required to enhance the sector. The questionnaire comprise of both close and open ended questions in search of varied aspects of cuisine tourism in Singapore. The data collected from the questionnaire is solely for academic research and would not be used in any other way. All responses provided will be treated confidentially. Your cooperation is highly appreciated.

If you have any questions please email me at:

Student Name:

Graduate School:




Kindly tick (√) on the appropriate answer

  1. Gender

Male                                                                Female

  • Age

Below 20 years                                               21-30 years

31- 40 years                                                     41-50 years

51- 60 years                                                     60 years and above


Please indicate the level by which you agree with the following statement by ticking () in the provided space. “5” shows that you strongly agree while “1” shows that you strongly disagree

No. Question Strongly Disagree (1) Disagree   (2) Neutral   (3) Agree   (4) Strongly Agree (5)
3. Do you love cuisine tourism industry offered in Singapore?          
4. Do you think Singapore is offering the best food tourism industry in the world?          
5. Are the Singaporean citizens hospitable?            
6. Do the Singapore cuisine industry offer variety of foods?          
7. Do you think the Singapore cuisine industry is using the best channel for publicity for tourists?          
8. Are the varieties of foods provided in Singapore delicious?          
9. Do you find the Singapore cuisine industry offering various foods of your need?            
10. Is the government doing the best to uplift the Singapore food tourism industry?          
11. Will the food tourism industry change to better level in the future?          
12. Based on the different food offered, does it appear like most of the hotel offers professional services?          
13. Does it take long to integrate in the Singapore culture?          
14. Do you agree that most tourists always look for secure destination such as Singapore for tourism?          
15. Did learn about the hotel from either of the following: facebook, twitter, google plus or you tube?          
16. Is it easy to find the hotel through the internet search?          
17. Is it possible to access the food tourism website pages using your phone?          
18. Did you find all of the stipulated food tourism hotels in the websites?          
19. Doe the website appear unique from other websites?          

20. What is your general view/comment on the Singapore tourism industry?


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