River revamp hailed but ‘more can be done’

River revamp hailed but ‘more can be done’


By Tessa Wong


BUSINESSES along the Singapore River have welcomed a new government plan to revamp the area and are hoping the changes will translate into more spending on food, alcohol and entertainment.


‘Clarke Quay has the critical mass and prime location. I’m very confident that the area will attract even more people with the enhancements,’ said Mr Clark Martin, owner of the Highlander Bar at Clarke Quay.


The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) unveiled plans yesterday to revamp the river from Empress Place to Kim Seng Bridge.


Mr Bill Graham, co-owner of Clarke Quay restaurants Peony Jade and Quayside Seafood and nightspot The Pump Room, said that the STB was ‘spending the right money on the right things’.


‘It’s not mega bucks, it’s not the Eiffel Tower. But it will double, maybe triple, the appeal of the area, and will give Singapore something iconic to crow about,’ he said.


Some businesses are already planning to capitalise on the changes. For instance, Mr Graham is anticipating more river taxi traffic and hopes to entice more passengers into his restaurants with promotional packages.


Regular patrons to the area said they are looking forward to the revamp, but at least one hoped that the STB would use a light touch in some spots.


‘I think Robertson Quay could do with more lighting, but if it gets too glitzy, then it’ll lose its quaint feeling,’ said Mr David Firth-Eagland, 30, a Canadian operations manager working here.


Some tenants also felt more could be done.


Mr Mohan Mulani, chief executive of Harry’s Holdings which owns a Harry’s Bar outlet at Boat Quay, said that other problems, such as touting, should be addressed. He said the problem has been around for too long, and tourists are getting irritated.


Just up the river at Robertson Quay, Ms Monique Kwok, operating partner of Belgian restaurant Brussels Sprouts, complained of a stench coming from the river ‘four days out of seven’. She said it is off-putting to diners in outdoor restaurants.


‘If the STB can look into all these first, that would be good. There is no point enhancing the river when you have these problems,’ she said.


Source: Straits Times

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