T-shirts, tacos, and tourism: Singapore businesses cash in on Trump-Kim mania

Published On: June 10, 2018 10:37 AM NPT By: Reuters

The buzz around the Trump-Kim summit on Tuesday has stirred Singaporeans’ entrepreneurial spirit, and raised hopes of a tourism dividend long after the summit dust settles.

One person is trying to sell his weekend reservations at the Shangri-La Hotel, mentioned in media as the possible lodging of one of the leaders - at three times the price.

“It was for a personal ‘staycation’, but I reckon that because of the summit, people might actually offer to pay a higher price,” Joel Lin, who is asking for S$1,600 for each of two rooms he has booked, said by telephone.

The Singapore Mint, which this week unveiled a commemorative medallion for the summit, later raised the mintage for the gold and silver medallions after an overwhelming response.

At more than S$1,000 ($750) a piece for the gold version, and more than S$100 for the silver one, the issue could yield upwards of S$5 million if they are all sold.

Scalpers are preparing to sell the medallions they get in an online sale.

An Australian Kim impersonator, who goes by the name Howard X, has also been cashing in but said he got an unpleasant surprise on Friday when he was detained for questioning on arrival back in the country for a second time in two weeks.

He said he was allowed on his way after being told to stay away from summit venues.

A Singapore burger chain, Wolf Burgers, urged the two leaders to #settlethebeef and invited them to try its “Burger for World Peace”, with American sharp cheddar cheese and Korea’s marinated Bulgogi shabu brisket.

Mexican restaurant Lucha Loco is selling “Rocket Man” and “El Trumpo” tacos and guests stand a chance to smash Trump-Kim piñatas.

Trump called Kim “little rocket man” last year, when the two were exchanging threats of nuclear war and the prospect of a summit was nothing but a distant dream for even the most optimistic marketing man.

More than 3,000 journalists are due in town, along with delegations and security entourages.

Those who enjoy a tipple might seek out a bar offering cocktails featuring the Korean spirit soju. One bar has named its special summit drink - which mixes beer, tequila, diet Coke and soju - the Bromance.

Singapore, which welcomed a record 17.4 million international visitors last year, is likely to see a bump, albeit small, in retail spending because of the summit.

Every tourist to Singapore spends an average three-and-a-half days and contributes about S$1,500 to overall tourism receipts, said brokerage CGS-CIMB.

Assuming a seven-day stay and about 4,000 people coming for the event, a CGS-CIMB analyst estimated they could spend about S$12 million ($9 million).

That’s a drop in the bucket in the short-term - the Singapore Tourism Board has forecast tourism receipts of between S$27.1 billion ($20.3 billion) and S$27.6 billion this year.

But a glitch-free summit will increase the chances of more big-ticket events.

“As with all high-profile visits, it places Singapore on the map for international audiences and showcases Singapore as an ideal destination, especially for business and meetings,” said Oliver Chong, executive director of communications and marketing capability at the tourism board.

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