Enter Batman as cable car woos locals

SINGAPORE - You could say they have the experience. Batman has saved Gotham City often enough, while Superman has shielded Metropolis.

The two superheroes will join forces alongside others and fly to the aid of the Singapore Cable Car as it fights more modern rivals and tries to win back local admirers.

This Singapore icon was once second to none when it came to getting a bird's-eye view of the island's landscape.

With a top height of 120m above sea level, it offers a sweeping view of Mount Faber Park as well as Sentosa island.

But multiple sky parks and newer attractions like the Singapore Flyer now offer higher vantage points, and the cable car must fight for the favour of the locals.

Enter the Super Heroes.

From May 31, cable car riders can "fly" alongside characters like Batman and Superman in DC Comics-themed cabins, as the iconic ride launches a campaign to woo back locals.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the cable car wants to double ridership among locals over the next two years. They make up just 15 per cent of its traffic now, and the plan is to raise that to 30 per cent.

"We want to be more relevant to locals because Mount Faber is, after all, an iconic part of Singapore's landscape," explained Suzanne Ho, general manager of Mount Faber Leisure Group.

Cable car ridership for the local segment, she noted, has remained "static" for the past few years.

Apart from the DC-themed campaign, the company will also introduce a new membership card that is tailored specially for the local market, offering unlimited cable car rides, as well as dining and retail privileges at affordable prices.

The cable car's popularity has waned among Singaporeans, she noted, due in part to the competition.

Tourism expert Michael Chiam said Singaporeans have turned to "cheaper and more convenient transport options" to reach Sentosa today, instead of using the cable car.

"Accessibility to Mount Faber is still quite a challenge, unless you drive or are willing to do a lot of exercise to get up there," said the senior lecturer in tourism at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Earlier this month, Mount Faber unveiled its new brand concept, stepping away from the premium Jewel Box brand to a "more inclusive brand personality" called Faber Peak Singapore.

A new casual diner, Spuds & Aprons, has taken the place of the former upmarket fine-dining restaurant Jewel Box.

The company is also looking into the possibility of constructing a tram system that will take visitors from the foot of the hill to its peak, which is 100m above sea level.

The overhaul at Mount Faber follows a string of activities lined up by the Singapore Tourism Board to help locals rediscover the country's tourism offerings, such as the free tours of Haw Par Villa in March.

For any attraction here, the domestic market is definitely a "critical sector", said Kevin Cheong, chairman of the Association of Singapore Attractions.

"From a business standpoint, relying mainly on the tourist market is too risky. The Sars incident in 2003 has proven this," he explained.

To draw in the locals, Mr Cheong said that attractions should continue to reinvent themselves by creating "different and renewed reasons for revisits".

They should also explore "alternative and incremental revenue streams", such as bringing in food and beverage experiences, shows and concerts, he added.

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