AFTER SEVEN YEARS, Singapore is retiring its tourism branding — Your Singapore — and replacing it with something that “is a reflection of who [Singaporeans] are,” according to a regional tourism executive.

“Amid the competitive landscape, Singapore needs to continue to up our game and differentiate ourselves… the [new] brand must be authentic,” Edward Koh, executive director for Southeast Asia of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said in his speech during the launch of the new branding on Sept. 15 at SM Mega Fashion Hall in Mandaluyong City.

The new branding, called “Passion Made Possible,” was brought upon discovering “that one core narrative in the Singapore story [where] people come together to overcome constraints, turn weaknesses into strengths, [and eventually] transforming Singapore from a small state with no natural resources to a thriving metropolis today,” said Mr. Koh.

“It is no longer just about what our visitors can do in Singapore, but also what they can be in Singapore,” he added.

The new tourism slogan came after the country’s tourism department hailed 2016 as a banner year after posting a growth of 7.7% in international tourist arrivals (16.4 million international arrivals) while tourism receipts grew by 13.9% to S$24.8 billion.

“Despite challenges such as weaker economic performance in some of Singapore’s top source markets and a Zika virus outbreak, Singapore has managed to attract more quality visitors to contribute to economic growth,” Lionel Yeo, chief executive of the STB, said as quoted in a February article on the country’s 2016 tourism performance posted on the board’s Web site.

The first cases of the Zika virus outbreak — a viral disease carried by mosquitoes which has spread to over 60 countries since its discovery in 2015 in Brazil — was reported on Aug. 26, 2016 according to the Singapore Ministry of Health. The year ended with more than 400 cases.

Despite the initial fear that the outbreak would also hit the tourism sector, much like the SARS outbreak in 2003 did, bringing brought down tourism arrivals by 74% during its peak in May, only markets such as Japan and South Korea declined in the last quarter of 2016 due to reports of the Zika outbreak. Japan went down by 1% with 784,000 arrivals while South Korea went down by 2% or 567,000 arrivals.

Indonesia remains the country’s largest source market for tourists with 2.894 million visitors, followed by China with 2.864 million. The growth, according to the tourism board, is credited towards more arrivals coming from Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities.

The Philippines is Singapore’s seventh largest market with 692,000 visitors.

Mr. Koh said that while they are “expecting some growth” in terms of tourist arrivals, they are not expecting as much as 2016 though the Philippine market is poised to grow at around 6% by yearend.

The launch of Singapore’s new tourism slogan was done concurrently with a three-day travel showcase from Sept. 15-17 where the country presented its “diverse cuisine, world-class attractions, shopping destination and wide range of experiences that can nurture different passions,” said a company press release.

“Passion Made Possible” will be promoted using visual assets such as films sharing “authentic stories of Singapore” as well as naming “Passion Ambassadors,” people who have made their passions possible in Singapore, among other initiatives. — Zsarlene B. Chua