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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nightlife ranking slips

Ranked No. 2 globally last year, Singapore is now No. 5 in nightlife and No. 3 in fine dining

THE smoke has cleared, the lights turned off and Singapore has become less of a happening party place - if you go by what the results of a ranking exercise indicate.

The annual Country Brand Index (CBI), conducted by global brand consultancy FutureBrand since 2005, places Singapore in fifth place for nightlife this year.

The first four spots are held by Spain, the United States, Brazil and Thailand.

Last year, Singapore clinched second spot for nightlife and fine dining. Unlike this year, the two activities were labelled under a single category then. Singapore is ranked third for fine dining this year.

The survey polls 2,600 frequent international travellers from seven countries and ranks countries by key criteria in 22 categories, such as the most family-friendly, safest and with the friendliest local people The results were released earlier this week..
So what to make of the new nightlife ranking?

Ask bar or club operators and you will get an opinion shared by Mr Dennis Foo, chief executive of megaclub complex St James Power Station: 'Considering the number of nightspots that have opened in the past year, nightlife here has grown, not declined.

'The quality has gone up several notches and the landscape is different from last year,' he adds.
Clubbers feel the same way, too.

'If anything, I thought the nightlife here has grown. There are more places to go to, such as the Ministry of Sound, St James and Dempsey Road,' says media executive Jean Tay, 26.
MoS is located in a much-rejuvenated Clarke Quay while a bunch of F&B establishments have in recent months turned the Dempsey area into a hip spot.

Mr Foo feels the drop in ranking is caused by the separation of nightlife and fine dining into two categories.

'We are fifth for nightlife and third for fine dining, so if the two categories were still together, we would have been second, behind the United States which is renowned for its entertainment,' he points out.

Apart from the US, Singapore is the only country to be in the Top 5 for both categories. The US is second for nightlife and fifth for fine dining.

If it's any consolation, Italy, which was rated No. 1 for nightlife and dining last year, did not even make the Top 5 for nightlife this year. It slipped into ninth spot for nightlife and came in second for fine dining.

However, some nightlife operators here think that there could be some truth in the findings.
'It's pretty stagnant here, there's nothing new happening, just old bars closing and new ones opening. There's no wow factor,' says Mr Marco De Miranda, managing director of Bar None which runs The Living Room and soon-to-be-opened b:one, both in the Singapore Marriott Hotel.

Mr Michael Ma, CEO of the IndoChine Group of restaurants and bars, says: 'Singapore has a fantastic nightlife though we cater more to the corporate lifestyle. What we lack is the Hollywood glam factor.'

Still, operators, and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), agree in forecasting that the only way is up for Singapore.

'Locally we are still building, and with the integrated resorts and the many developments coming up in the Marina Bay area and Sentosa, we should climb up the rankings,' predicts Mr Clement Lee, CEO of LifeBrandz which operates clubs like MoS, Cafe Del Mar and Kandi Bar.
Director of cluster development (events & entertainment) for STB, Ms Lynette Pang, says: 'Next year, Singapore will host the inaugural 2008 Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, the first and only night race on the F1 calendar. We remain focused in positioning Singapore as one of Asia's leading entertainment capitals'.

Industry sources note that while rankings can be a gauge of success, they should also be approached with prudence.

Ms Tracy Phillips, marketing manager for nightlife icon Zouk, notes: 'I don't lend much credence to such indexes because the results depend largely on the pool of respondents they survey.'
'Plus, nightlife is so broad, it can refer to anything that can be done after dark.'
With additional reporting by Leung Wai-Leng

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