Thursday, 1 December 2016

Fieldt Trip Assignment at River Safari

Pre-Visit Research Findings

The River Safari is a brand new attraction in Singapore which adapts to a river-themed zoo and sea aquarium located in Singapore. It is one of the many first concepts in Asia featuring freshwater attractions together with river boat rides as its main highlights. River Safari falls into the category of Built-For-Tourism attraction due to the man-made structures and the sole purpose of nothing other than attracting visitors. They are generally permanent or have life long span, with a perceived image of being a beneficial as well as an opportunity to the tourism industry. This new attraction is the fourth zoo in Singapore, along with the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, and Night Safari, all of which are managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore. With Wildlife Reserve Singapore being a self-funded organization, it allows River Safari to be classified as a private ownership by the commercial organization.

Nestling between its two counterparts, the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari, River Safari has an expected visitor rate of 820,000 people yearly. This shows that River Safari is a secondary attraction because it is an alternative attraction for tourist to visit along the way. In this scenario, the primary attraction is Singapore Zoo and River Safari is a new attraction for visitors to visit while the main park is under development. The goal for constructing a secondary attraction is to prevent the visitors from visiting other attractions in Singapore, and also allowing the organization to maximize the income from visitors.
What makes the River Safari so different from the rest of the wildlife park is the boasts of tropical rainforest setting along with various animal attractions, theme park rides, and other major exhibits. Taking the size of River Safari to compare with Singapore Zoo, River Safari is a total of 30acres whereas the Singapore Zoo is 69acres. A different of 2 times it's size.

Comparing the size of the entire attraction, as well as the number of  attractions available at each park, it is obvious that the Singapore Zoo is the primary attraction.

Hence, it supports the fact that River Safari is the  secondary attraction with the pure intentions of maximizing the profits to the organization, while Singapore Zoo is the main park in Mandai
Upon further research, River Safari provides a whole range of offers and promotions to potential visitors to the park. The majority of the programs fluctuates within the idea of a family activity where all ages are invited to participate. Some examples of the special events available include Amazon River Quest, River Safari Cruise, River Trails, Meet the American Beavers and lastly Panda Rise and Shine. Since the opening of River Safari Singapore, the Pandas have always been a tourists’ favorite and the main reason for staying.

The ticket pricing  for admission to the park is $30 for  adult, $20 for a child between 3 to 12 years old and $14 for senior citizens, all of which includes a complimentary ride on River Safari Cruise for free. As for the Amazon River Quest, it is both $5 for adult and senior citizens, and only $3 for a child. In my opinion, I believe that the admission ticket pricing is fairly reasonable as the prices are already inclusive of 7% GST. For kids below the age of 3, they are subjected to free admission ticket. However, over the internet, there are many 3rd party seller and unauthorized ticket agents selling the tickets for as low as $20. Situations like these encourage people to divert from the official seller such as SISTIC, River Safari’s website as well as over the ticket counter and instead, purchase from the black market.

Taking the price of River Safari’s admission ticket to compare with 3 other wildlife attractions in Singapore, the prices for River Safari is considered the cheapest park in Mandai while  Night Safari being the priciest attraction in the area. This shows that the main objective for River Safari Singapore is to be an affordable secondary attraction for all ages especially families to come over and enjoy themselves. Apart from being relatively the cheapest admission price, River Safari also includes Membership, Birthday Specials in order to make the park appealing to visitors to come back for another visit. In addition to all the price promotions, Wildlife Reserve Singapore also offers Parkhoppers Special which is a combination of all 4 parks in a fraction of the usual price. This promotion is not only cheaper, but help saves a lot of time for the families enjoying a day out.

The attraction engages with the audience through providing a wide range of information for potential visitors. Some of the pieces of information include a map of the entire park, visitor's guide to getting there, as well as park visit tips. All of which ensure the tourist a safe, fun and enjoyable experience over at River Safari. They also include an extensive page of written essay for each and every attraction available within the park, some of which incorporate the use of photographs and pictures to further captivate the audience.

Photo screenshot from River Safari's official website

Along the lines of impact of attraction, it is inevitable to look at the various implication done by attractions in the tourism industry. 

In River Safari, the park draws a significant amount of foreign currencies into Singapore which generates a lot of tourism receipts. Through the taxes, it also increases general income for the government. Also, visitor expenditure has a multiplier effect on the local economy and boost total tourism revenue. Similarly, it also helps to provide jobs for the citizens both directly and indirectly. However, problems such as seasonal job creation are not applicable in Singapore because the weather remains the same all year round without affecting the visitors traveling to Singapore. Moving on to environmental impacts, the general view of attraction is the fact that it has an overall negative impact on the environment. Physical damages such as wear and tear, littering, vandalism and harm to wildlife are all expected in human-made attractions. Other environmental impacts on attractions include the destruction of natural environment during development, sources of pollution and potential extinction of animals. Lastly, for socio-cultural impact on attractions, large crowds can ruin the atmosphere and be a threat to the wildlife being held captive in cages. This is especially applicable to River Safari because of the arrival of two pandas- Kai Kai and Jia Jia. While the pandas are the main highlight of the entire park, visitors are not allowed to speak loudly or participate in flash photography when viewing them. This is due to the nature of the animals and the habitat they live in. Hence, the park may cause potential stress and harm to the pandas unintentionally due to the inconsideration of other visitors unsightly behavior when watching the pandas.

For attraction design, the park meets the objective of being safe and security, all-weathered operations and environmental friendliness. In River Safari, there all fire exits at every segment of the park and it is very visible to the eyes of the tourist which is good because, in the case of emergency, the tourist would know where to evacuate. Aside from fire safety, the park has at least two rangers at every point of the attraction and rides which is very assuring for the people should an emergency ever occur. Next, River Safari is built to overcome any wet weather in order to ensure the visitors to continue having a great time despite the condition of the sky. Structures like shelters and resting pods are easily spotted when walking around the park. Lastly, environmental friendliness. The park is constantly filled with recycling bins and posters to encourage visitors to reduce, reuse and recycle. This helps the park to conserve the environment and also uphold the name of a wildlife reserve being environmentally friendly and green. 

Field trip Experience

Upon reaching the entrance of River Safari, it is very clear that the needs of the visitors were all catered be it dining, retailing or getting about the park. River Safari not only provides brochure and maps around the area but also other attractions in Singapore such as Sentosa and Universal Studio Singapore. On the brochure itself, it provides information such as river trails and wildlife encounter, admission prices and the best dining places to try the infamous Panda 'Paus'. The whole atmosphere was very lively and fun with many kids screaming and laughing around the park. It was also very heartening to receive great services from the staffs who never failed on putting a smile on their face. When I arrived, I was confused as I had purchased e-tickets from the official website and were unaware of how the e-tickets function in the park. Luckily enough, the workers were very kind and helpful and escorted me all the way from the ticketing booth till the entrance gate of the park in an effort to ensure my safety. In my opinion, the overall appeal of the attraction was out of the world amazing and fun where I knew an adventure awaits when I took the first step into the park. 

My personal e-ticket
Brochure I have gathered for the trip
One of the key features I liked was the accessibility of the map of the entire park. It was available at every river which was very assuring and easy to keep track of. Another aspect I liked in River Safari was the fact that there were always rangers patrolling and ready to help any visitors in need. They were very kind and patient with all the questions asked and was able to provide information that was not available on any of the posters. I felt very engaged in the park despite visiting the attraction alone thanks to the rangers constantly helping me. In my opinion, I really looked up to the rangers working at the park because they  really have pride in their work and they are happy being a ranger that helps to conserve the environment. I compared my previous experience in other attractions in Singapore which in this case is Universal Studio Singapore. In all honesty, felt a huge difference because despite both workers being exceptionally helpful and kind, the rangers in River Safari really enjoyed their job working in the park whereas the workers in USS did not show as much enthusiasm. Having to said that, I also observed that at the panda's site, there was a ranger whose job was sole to inform visitors to speak softly at the panda's attraction. I honestly felt very bad for that wildlife ranger as I believe that the job did not felt fulfilling and there is no effort needed. I personally would not enjoy a job that only requires me to inform visitors to speak softly for many hours every day, and quite frankly it was obvious that the ranger was not too fond of his job as well. I believe that the rangers each have their strength and weaknesses and they try their best to be involved in keeping the park clean and safe for everyone.

Interacting pool at Mary River

In contrary to popular beliefs, the part which excited me the most was the Amazon Flooded Forest. Inside there, I really felt like I was in an aquatic wonderland where all the sea creatures were both beautiful and enchanting. When I have reached the attraction, there was a very helpful ranger who stepped out of his comfort zone and provided a small speech on the different creatures living in the aquarium and the types of species available. He also led the small tour up onto the interactive pool where he helped every kid to touch the stingray and much more. I enjoyed that segment the most because it was very interesting and despite it not being part of the ranger's job. However, with his small act of kindness, he had instantly become a hero to many kids and it was truly a heartening experience. I strongly believe that in my experience in River Safari was one of a kind and definitely not one my peers had an opportunity to encounter.

Amazon Flooded Forest
The beautiful tunnel aquarium

Amazon Flooded Forest

Panda Attraction

On the other hand, I was fairly disappointed by the fact that the pandas were not very engaging and the whole experience felt very underwhelming. Upon standing there for three hours, the pandas refuse to enter the attraction site due to the loud noise the crowd was making, and it was a very frustrating experience. I believe that this disappointing experience is not one the management of River Safari would be able to control as it lies on the hand of the audience on whether or not they would want to cooperate.  Despite my bad encounter with the pandas, I have to admit that the Panda 'Paus' were delicious and it was definitely worth a visit to try again.

Red Panda

Panda kitchen

only managed to grab a couple photos with the panda

Panda Pau at Mama Panda Kitchen 

Looking at River Safari, it is safe to say that the motivators of the attraction are mainly education, the different atmosphere created, thrill, excitement and fun, and nature reserve.  For the determinants, it includes disposable income, interests and hobbies, entrance charges and leisure time. This brings to the next point, market segmentation. For Demographic segmentation, River Safari focuses on families of all ages at a middle-income group. For psychographic segmentation, it targets people who have a passion for wildlife reserve and are environmentally friendly. Some of the personality that is suitable includes adventurous and thrill seekers who love the nature and animals.

One of the biggest challenges that River Safari is facing is definitely breeding. According to River Safari’s official website, a  female giant panda is only fertile for one or two days out of the entire year. This shows that the population of the giant pandas is greatly depleting due to it’s low birth rate. Apart from slow breeding, it is also very highly possible to run the problem of extinction due to the low birth rate and slow breeding not being able to catch up the algorithm.

Photo screenshot from River Safari's official website
Another challenge that River Safari is facing is the threat to environmental impacts. As it was stated previously, the environmental impacts of the attraction are the fact that it has an overall negative impact on the environment. With physical damages being the mild problem, the real challenge here is the destruction of natural habitat. Even though the entire park is man-made for the animals, the problem continues that the real natural habitat of the animals is in great danger. This is a long term issue that River Safari is facing because, over time, they are planning on inhabiting more animals for the visitors to enjoy and continue to visit. But with the habitat continuously being destroyed and taken over for government recreation, it posses as a huge threat where it may cause the potential extinction of animals eventually.

Rainforest wiped out for human recreation development

Lastly, pollution. Pollution has been a problem for the wildlife reserve for the longest period of time. With the sea being polluted with oil spill and the litters on the beach being tied up on other innocent animal’s neck, it posses a great threat to the wildlife’s goal to conserve the environment. I believe that the challenge that River Safari is facing is how to educate the young ones in order to prevent pollution from worsening in the future and how to save the animals from being harmed.

Pollution in the sea

This concludes the end of my field trip report. Personally, I believe that this trip was not only enriching, but it was an eye-opening experience for me as well. To look at the world in a new perspective from a simple little small field trip outing, was my biggest take away from this assignment.


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