Tourism festival breathes new life into Haw Par Villa; restoration works planned

"Say Haw Par Villa and eyes light up, it has a unique place in Singaporean memories," said Robert Lim, 45, an engineer. Called "Reliving Haw Par Villa", the festival was part of the Singapore Tourism Board's 50th anniversary. Through special events at heritage places, it wants local residents to relive memories of famous Singapore attractions and create new ones with friends and family.

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According to a MyPaper report last Tuesday, the relaunch of Haw Par Villa as a domestic tourist destination was met with a rousing response over the weekend, with almost five times more visitors than usual.

Visitors went on free guided tours of the 76-year-old attraction, watched cultural performances and nibbled on popiahs and wanton noodles at a nostalgia-themed food bazaar.

Called Reliving Haw Par Villa, the event was part of the ongoing Tourism50 campaign by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to encourage Singaporeans to visit attractions, such as the Gan Heritage Centre in Bukit Pasoh Road and the Jamae Mosque in South Bridge Road.

Haw Par Villa saw an average of 3,000 visitors per day last weekend, up from the 700 that it usually receives daily.

The crowd was mostly made up of elderly folk and families with young children keen on looking at the colourful statues and dioramas that depict popular Chinese folktales.