The changing role of tourism policy in Singapore’s cultural development: from explicit to insidious
Ooi, CS, The changing role of tourism policy in Singapore's cultural development: from explicit to insidious, Tourism, Culture and Communication, 19, (4) pp. 231-242. ISSN 1098-304X (2019) [Refereed Article]
In the last three decades, Singapore has transformed from a cultural desert to a global arts city, thanks significantly to tourism. The Singapore Tourism Board was proactively shaping the cultural dynamics and policy of Singapore until 2012. But since then its official role in the country's arts and cultural development almost disappeared. The disappearance of tourism interests in cultural development stems apparently from years of resistance, dialogues, and negotiation. This study argues that the tourism authorities are still maintaining influence in the cultural dynamics and development of Singapore by reframing its involvement. It insidiously asserts its influence by enticing members of the arts community with resources, opportunities, and economic support to participate in the tourism industry. This article provides a dialogical understanding of how tourism has shaped Singapore's cultural dynamics. Cultural dynamics and tourism development in Singapore must be understood within economic and social engineering perimeters defined by the government. The tourism authorities do not only work with other government authorities, they use similar techniques in managing and controlling cultural development in the city-state. The Bakhtinian Dialogic Imagination is the heuristic that organizes and structures the complex and dynamic tourism–culture relations in this study. Three dialogical concepts—carnivalesque, heteroglossia, and polyphony—are used. Besides documenting the ongoing evolution of tourism in the cultural development of Singapore, this study questions the effectiveness of the arm's length approach to managing cultural development. The Singapore case shows that there are subtle economic and political ways to go round that principle.
cultural policy, carnivalesque, dialogic imagination, heteroglossia, polyphony, touristification, tourism development