Tourism Sample 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 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 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). In order to figure out the result the researcher conducted a survey in Chinatown street food area and Maxwell Food Court Centre in the 8th of September 2014 from 11:45 AM to 8:00 PM.

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. Likewise, food tourism provides an opportunity to promote local economic development and revitalize the tourism sector (Williams, 1987, 112). 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. 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).

Singapore recorded about 7%, 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. 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. In the 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. Athnee expounds mainly on how food was celebrated exclusively in those days (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.  Food was regarded as a basic part of living

            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. 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.  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). 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.  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).

            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.  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 (Dawes, J. 2008, 33).

        2.4 Marketing Singaporean Food Tourism Image

            Food tourism is a major factor 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.  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

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.  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 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 comprised of the individuals who visited some of the regions in Singapore exclusively for cuisine tourism in August 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. This population was provided with questionnaire based on the food tourism. Among the captured areas of food tourism comprised of the physical, cultural, economic and prestigious or status trends of cuisine tourism (Ramchandani, N. 2012).  

3.2  Sampling Frame

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).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

4.1 Presentation of the primary data

4.1.1 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 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%

4.1.2 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 (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%


4.1.3 Clients Satisfaction level

            From the study, it is revealed that there was a higher rating of positive feedbacks on meals and other edibles. The satisfaction level of clients as revealed by the questionnaire indicated that the tourists and other visitors found the nature and quality of food in most places as above average.

    breakfast quality lunch quality dinner quality room service menu choice and variety
% % % % %
poor 0 0 0 0 1
average 18.8 17.7 13.5 11.5 21.9
good 35.4 31.3 34.4 45.8 27.1
excellence 45.8 51 52.1 42.2 50

4.1.4    Satisfaction of banquet services

Banquet services included activities, such as barbeques, coffee times, parties, and other informal meals.

  Service meets expectation Level of satisfaction Standards of equipment
Poor 1% 0 1%
Average 9.4% 5.4% 7.2%
Good 38.5% 43.5 32.3%
Excellent 51.1% 51.1 59.4%

The table above indicates that most clients were satisfied with all banqueting services provided in the country. This also shows that apart from being superior in culinary services, Singapore also has almost excellent services and equipment.  The respondents showed that every amenity made available to them served their purpose as per their expectations. None of the respondent rated any service as poor.

4.1.5    Finding on Staff

The results collected revealed that most customers were satisfied with the rates at which service providers were working. This is shown in the table below

  Staff friendliness and courtesy  % Staff efficiency % Neatness and professionalism  % Knowledge of product  %
Poor 1 4.2 2.1 2.1
Average 9.4 8.3 7.3 14.6
Good 39.6 44.8 43.8 36.4
Excellent 50 42.7 46.9 46.9

The table above reveals that most customers were satisfied with how friendly the staff in selected area. Neatness and professionalism was another positive factor that impressed more than 45 percent of those who were interviewed. However, 4.2 percent of the respondents were not satisfied with the efficiency of staff members.

Gender and Age of tourist

Gender Percentage
Male 57
Female 43
Below 20yrs 3.3
21 -30yrs 5.7
31 – 40yrs 9.2
41-50yrs 51.5
51-60yrs 20.2
61 and above yrs 10.1

            The table above shows that more men than women traveled to the destination, whereas those who are between the ages of 41 to 50 years traveled to the selected destination more than individuals in any age bracket.

Purpose and means of travel

Purpose of travel Percentage
Business 42.3
Education 9.8
Leisure 34.6
Other 13.3
Means of travel  
Bus 8.3
Air 53.4
Car 20.2
Train 10.1

In the above table, many tourists were in the country for business reasons while those who visited the nation used air as a means of travel.

Length of stay and knowledge of the place

Length of stay Percentage
Below 7 days 34.6
Two weeks 9.8
Three weeks 42.3
More than three weeks 13.3
Marketing/advertisement 38.3
Word of mouth 13.4
Other (eg internet ) 48.3
Finding similar food back home  
Yes 39.4
No 60.6

            Above table shows that most tourists took more than three weeks, a greater percentage of the visitors knew the destination through other means such as internet, while only 39. 4 percent can find similar food back home.

Difference in food compared to those back home  Percentage
Originality 32.3
Presentation 15.8
Taste 14.6
Size 13.3
Quality 24
Other 0
Spending budget  
Less than $1000 13.3
1000-2000 15.4
2000-3000 dollars 17.4
Above 3000 dollars 54.9
Preferred food establishment  
Hotels  36.1
Restaurant 24.5
Cafes 13.4
Bars/pubs 1.2
Day/night clubs 0
Fast food joints 1.1
Street eateries 3.4
Food centers 17
Other 3.3

            This table shows that the greatest percentage of tourists find that food in the chosen destination was better due to its originality. More than half of the visitors intended to use over $3000 on food and other services, and majority of the visitors preferred eating in hotels to dinning in other places.

Favorite food  Percentage
Local breakfast 32.3
Desserts 9.8
Local noodles/rice dishes 24.2
Milk tea 13.3
Roasted meats 8.2
Sea food 13.2
others 0
View the place as a tourism destination  
Yes  77.4
No 22.9
Intend to visit Singapore again   
Yes   86.7
No  13.3

            Most people preferred local meals; over 75 percent found Singapore to be a tourist destination and would visit it again

4.2 Presentation of Secondary Data.

4.2.1 Books/ journals/articles

.  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. Discussion

 The main aim was to find the level of satisfaction of customers in the food tourism of the country. It also looked at other related aspects, such as conference rooms, banquets, services provided, and the employees in the industry. Most customers were satisfied with the different types of food offered in these areas. The survey revealed that Singapore has a rich assortment of cuisine that is enjoyed by most tourists. It also showed that it has variety of food to choose from. Many customers reported higher percentage of satisfaction on the degree of knowledge possessed by the staff of the chosen areas. The survey results also indicate that most of the people who participated in the research were satisfied with most of the services offered and these services also met their expended standards. Only a few customers, 1 percent, were dissatisfied with the services rendered in China town food street area and Maxwell road hawker center. Clients were able to obtain both traditional and modern cuisines that satisfied their needs. The areas also have promising customer care services that seem to attract many clients.

On the contrary, a slightly higher percentage gave negative feedback on staff efficiency in some of the chosen areas.  Meaning that they waited a little longer to have their orders taken, and the food availed to them. Most clients prefer fast and effective staff, therefore, it is recommended that China town food street area and Maxwell road hawker center should work on the efficiency of their staff in order to attract more customers.

6. 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). 

7.  Conclusion and Recommendations

 Singaporean resorts have started focusing on the best ways of enhancing the visitors experience in the cuisine resorts (Singapore Food & Drink Report – Q1 2012). The promotion and development of the food tourism may act as an important element in diversifying the economic base and promoting the national pride.




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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:

Students Name:          MIN HUN SAW

Graduate School:        Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS)



Kindly tick (√) on the appropriate answer

Male                                                                Female

  1. Age

Below 20 years                                               21-30 years

31- 40 years                                                     41-50 years

51- 60 years                                                     60 years and above


  1. What was your purpose of travel to Singapore?

Business          Education         Leisure          Other

  1. Is this your first visit to Singapore? 

Yes                  No

  1. How did you travel to Singapore?     

Air                   Bus                  Car                  Cruise                  Train

  1. What is your length of stay in Singapore? Less than one day

            1-7days           8-14 days        15-21day         more than 21 days 

  1. How did you know about Singapore?

 Advertisement marketing campaign              word of mouth                        Other

  1. Can you find the same food in Singapore back home?

Yes                  No

  1. What is the difference in food in Singapore as compared to food back home?

Originality                   presentation                 Price                Taste                Size of serving               others  

  1. What is your spending budget for food in Singapore?

            Less than $1000            $1001 to $2000            $2001 to 2500

            Above $ 2500

  1. Which of the following food establishment in Singapore do you prefer?                              Hotel               restaurant                    Bar/pubs                      cafes                day/night club                          Fast food joint     food centers                street eateries              others
  2. What is your favorite local Singapore food?                                                                          Local breakfast                         desserts                       local noodles/rice dishes

            Milk tea                       roasted meats              sea food                      others

  1. Do you view Singapore as a food tourism destination?                                                                     Yes                  no
  2. What is your preference of area of food experience?

Buffet nights               Local restaurant                      Cultural shows

Festivals                      Cookery classes

  1. What is your factor of interest to visit Singapore?

Rich history and Heritage                   A secure Destination              Good local food and Local Cuisine

Natural environment and class beauty            Quality accommodation          Others

  1.  Your rate of the nature and quality of food in Singapore?

Poor                 Average           Good               Excellent

  1. How would you rate Singapore Banquet service?

Poor                 Average           Good               Excellent

  1. How would you rate the standard of the service staffs in Singapore?

            Poor                 Average           Good               Excellent

  1. Do you intend to visit Singapore again?

            Yes                              No

Any suggestions/comments for food tourism of Singapore?