Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry with regard to Haw Par Villa (a) what has been the annual visitorship rate to the park in each of the past five years; (b) how does STB evaluate the tour operator’s performance in site management including its key performance indicators; (c) what has been the progress of the upgrading works; (d) whether STB has worked with NHB to preserve the unique heritage of the site including acting on recommendations of the NHB-commissioned research study in 2016 and, if so, how has this been done; (e) whether there are any plans for the site in the next 10-20 years; and (f) whether the park can be gazetted as a national monument or conservation area.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade & Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing
1. Haw Par Villa is a unique attraction to Singapore, and the upkeep of Haw Par Villa is an important and ongoing task. In the past five years, visitorship to the park increased steadily, from 180,000 in 2016 to 344,000 in 2019. In 2020, visitorship fell to 109,000, as the park was closed for several months due to COVID-19.
2. The appointed operator is responsible for maintaining the park’s facilities in good condition. In addition, the operator is expected to come up with initiatives, such as experiences, programming and tours, to draw visitors to the park. Since 2017, the operator has also been working closely with STB on various refurbishment and upgrading works on key infrastructure and amenities. Last October, STB and the operator agreed to close the park for upgrading and repair works, taking advantage of the lull in visitorship arising from COVID-19. The park is on track to reopen in the third quarter of 2021 with enhanced night lighting, new air conditioning systems, and other enhancements. More details will be announced closer to the reopening date.
3. Recognising Haw Par Villa’s significance and heritage, STB partnered with NHB to study and document its heritage features, including the built structures and statuary, and to recommend appropriate methods to repair the features and upkeep the park’s heritage in the future. Completed in 2017, findings of the study have guided STB on the ongoing repair efforts in Haw Par Villa.