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18 March 2010

Universal Studios opens first SE Asian theme park in Singapore

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Southeast Asia's first Universal Studios theme park, featuring rides and attractions from box-office hits such as "Shrek" and "Madagascar", opened to enthusiastic crowds in Singapore on Thursday, reported AFP.

Hundreds of visitors including foreign tourists lined up to be among the first into the 20-hectare (50-acre) park, part of the $4.4-billion Resorts World Sentosa casino complex built by Malaysia's Genting Group.

The casino, Singapore's first, started operations last month as part of a drive to draw more visitors to the city-state, which relies on man-made attractions to entice tourists.

Singaporean newlyweds Raymond Ling and Liew See Eng took the day off to try the roller-coaster rides at the seaside amusement centre.

"The whole goal was to come here first and experience the most terrifying rides. We'll definitely be taking it as many times as we can," Ling told AFP after getting off a ride called "Battlestar Galactica Human".

"It was very scary! At the first drop, I felt like my heart was going to come out," Liew said after their front-seat experience.

The park has seven zones of movie-themed attractions, including an area devoted to Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" and a version of Hollywood's famous "Walk of Fame".

The park houses 24 rides and attractions in all, with 18 of them originally designed or adapted for Singapore.

The theme park is also promoting itself overseas, especially to neighbouring countries.

Liang Wern Ling, director, Destination Sales, Resorts World Sentosa, said: "Asian markets are our target markets. For example, Malaysia , Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and China. What we have been doing is going out to the market itself, talking to travel agents, to our business partners, to create awareness.

"So basically travel agents are very excited to sell our products. For the next few weeks, we expect to receive more frequent independent travellers, because of the tour groups because this is not actually the travel season for the region."

Asia's only other Universal Studios movie theme park is located in Japan, while the two others are in California and Florida.

Singapore gave the green light for casino gambling in 2005, hoping to boost the country's tourism appeal and draw more visitors. A marine life park, a maritime museum, a spa and two more hotels will open at Resorts World Sentosa after 2010.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore's second casino complex, is scheduled to open on April 27. It is now being completed by US-based Las Vegas Sands.

Singapore welcomed 9.7 million visitors last year, down 4.3 per cent from 2008 as the global recession hit travel demand, but arrivals have begun to pick up. There were 908,000 visitors in January, up 17.6 per cent from a year ago.


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