Foreigners learn about Singapore via virtual tours

Pro at work: Shanker conducting a virtual cooking class at his home in Singapore. — The Straits Times/ANN

With the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual local tours and experiences are attracting not only Singapore residents but also foreigners curious to learn about the sights and sounds here.

While the virtual tour experience remains novel to many, including tour guides here, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is looking to promote more of such activities abroad and encouraging providers to take their offerings online.

On Thursday, STB and Airbnb signed a two-year memorandum of understanding to promote the local tours and experiences on Airbnb’s platform.

The tours include live-streamed walkabouts or cooking demonstrations, while others consist of pre-recorded segments, with hosts in their own homes or offices while engaging with participants.

P.S. Yeo is one of several here who have taken their tours and experiences online, in a bid to continue hosting travellers while globetrotting remains a challenge due to Covid-19 border restrictions.

Yeo, who owns and operates Everyday Tour Company, started the Explore Crazy and Rich Singapore online tour in July.

She said the majority of her participants are from abroad.

Her tour, centred on the 2018 hit movie Crazy Rich Asians which features Singapore prominently, aims to compare the lived experiences of Singaporeans with those portrayed in the film, and has drawn audiences from around the world.

She hosts between 20 and 60 participants a week, depending on her schedule and whether she receives group bookings.

Like Yeo, other tour operators and hosts are tailoring their products to suit overseas audiences.

Dhruv Shanker, an expatriate from India, said his virtual cooking classes have been popular enough among foreigners for him to run them daily at 6am to cater to participants from the western hemisphere, before he begins work later as a marketing consultant.

Shanker, who has lived here for almost seven years, said while his classes focus on Indian food, he shares a list of must-eat hawker food and Singapore delicacies that participants should try out here.

The former chef has about 50 students a week on average, with about 90% tuning in to the classes from abroad. — The Straits Times/ANN

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