Crazy Rich Tourism: Blockbuster movie turns spotlight on Singapore

Global Business

A blockbuster movie can be a great promotional device for the location where it was shot. Singapore is getting its turn in the spotlight as the hit “Crazy Rich Asians” tops box offices in America and in Singapore. Two Singapore actresses from the movie give CGTN’s Miro Lu a tour in their hometown.

Actress Amy Cheng plays Jacqueline Ling, the mother of the character Amanda Ling. Jacqueline wants her daughter to marry rich bachelor Nick Young.

“The wedding reception of Colin and Araminta is right there,” said Cheng, pointing to the “Supertree Grove” in the Gardens by the Bay. “It was the perfect setting for that scene. Things were happening, unraveling, and for us it was just amazing that you know on this level, so many things were happening. When you look up, you see this beautiful, vertical gardens, all lit up. Being a Singaporean myself, I’ve not seen Singapore captured like this. It’s literally a love letter by (director) Jon (Chu) to us. Amazing! I fell in love with Singapore all over again.”

The premiere of the movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” adapted from the bestseller novel by Singaporean-American author Kevin Kwan about the upper echelons of Singapore, has sparked a boost in tourism promotions for the city-state.

“We thought the film would be a good conversation started to show people the real Singapore beyond the film. I think the film shows a very narrow slice of Singapore but for the Singapore Tourism Board, we wanted to show the authentic side of Singapore. So it opened up a conversation for us,” Lynette Pang, assistant chief executive, Marketing Group at the Singapore Tourism Board said.

Janice Koh, who played Felicity Young in the film, talked about what first-time visitors should do when they come to her home country.

“I would say come to Singapore but in order to discover Singapore. You really need to be a lot more intrepid, right, and adventurous,” said Koh. “Of course, what you see in the movie is the shiny parts: Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay. And they are wonderful places for a good day out or even a good view of the city. But to know a country, you really need to be where the people are. So in that sense, we are a lot more multi-cultural than what the movie showcases. I mean this movie is about one percent of the one percent of the one percent, right? It’s about one very ultra-rich family. But Singapore is a lot more multicultural and we have many neighborhoods that in a way showcase our multicultural heritage.”

Although Singaporeans are flocking into cinemas to see their own neighborhood on the big screen, there are outcries in some quarters that the film is not a true reflection of the city-state. But for everyone else, the incomplete picture is an understandably limited cinematic snapshot that, hopefully, will inspire further discovery.

Jeeyeon Hahm discusses how a hit movie can boost tourism in featured locations

CGTN’S Sean Callebs spoke with Jeeyeon Hahm, assistant professor of Rosen College of Hospitality, University of Central Florida about movie tourism.