SINGAPORE — Visitors to Singapore often head to well-known attractions such as Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands, though some might be surprised to find Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on this list. And for the students studying there, being a tourist attraction brings a different set of issues.
The local university implemented a new tour registration policy on Thursday (1 Feb), requiring all travel agencies who want to conduct tours at NTU to obtain pre-approval from NTU Events Office, register their tours, book visitation slots and adhere to the provided visiting guidelines.
Tour groups will also have to pay an entry fee. Lianhe Zaobao reported that according to a travel agency that had enquired about arranging a tour with NTU, it costs $719.40 per vehicle that enters the campus, and all tours must be completed within an hour.
The fees are “intended to support campus maintenance and the regulation of vehicle flow” and to “ensure a sustainable visiting experience”, NTU said in the policy circular.
Students unable to eat and get to class because of tourists
This policy comes after students in NTU have been voicing out how the campus frequently has tourists and the disruption that it causes to their student life. Reddit users wrote that many tourists have been spotted taking pictures at The Hive, eating at the food court in South Spine and wandering about the Lee Wee Nam library.
Students also shared having to make detours as the tour groups would block the way, as well as being asked for directions and school fees by tourists.
In a templated letter shared on Reddit about the situation, the author wrote that the tourists take pictures of students during lessons, making them feel like “zoo animals” and that they “disrupt students who are there to study”, comments that had been raised by other users on the platform.
Speaking to Lianhe Zaobao, fourth-year student Cai Song Hang said that since the start of the year, he sees at least five tour groups of at least 20 people each entering the school campus.
“There are too many people, causing the canteen to be very crowded. Sometimes I rather not eat and go straight for class,” he said.
Tourists also flocking to NUS
Aside from NTU, tourists are also headed to National University of Singapore (NUS). A reddit user shared how he saw three tour buses within 15 minutes and that “they crowd the canteen, toilets, water coolers, libraries and even the shuttle bus”, causing there to be a lack of space to sit and study in between classes.
NUS students shared with the Chinese paper that the increase in tourists was observed at the start of the year. They added that the tourists, who are mainly from China, South Korea and Japan, do inconvenience them.
Graduate student Liu Yi Ming told Lianhe Zaobao that such study groups usually pay a current student to act as an ambassador and share about student life with the participants. He added that someone had approached him for this and was willing to pay $40 an hour, but he had rejected the offer.
Students also expressed concern that with the new mutual 30-day visa-free travel entry agreement between Singapore and China, there would be even more tourists visiting the campus.
For now, NUS has not implemented any specific guidelines or requirements for tour groups who are keen to visit the NUS campus.
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