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Business takes a hit at Marina Bay carnival over New Year's weekend
Prudential Carnival beside Marina Bay Sands during on the rain on 2nd Jan 2018. Photo by Najeer Yusof/TODAY
January 3rd, 2018 | 09:17 AM | 1027 views
Thundery showers and gloomy weather over the long New Year's weekend caused business to slow down for vendors at what was touted to be Singapore’s largest carnival in the Marina Bay area.
The Prudential Marina Bay Carnival, which opened on Dec 15 and is set to last till April 1, offers food and some 40 rides and games over an area the size of 3.5 football fields — at the Promontory@Marina Bay and Bayfront Event Space.
In the weekend leading up to New Year’s Day, some food stallholders saw business drop “more than 50 per cent” because of the rainy weather.
An employee of bakery and patisserie Paul said that many customers, especially those with young children, asked to take refuge inside its booth when it rained, because the fairground lacked shelters. The bakery was selling items such as pulled beef sandwiches that are not available at its usual outlets, but it found that patrons preferred to dine at the nearby Marina Bay Sands instead of getting food from the carnival site.
Agreeing, a worker from gourmet burger joint Three Buns said that sales targets were met in the first two weeks of the carnival’s opening, but business has fallen by half recently.
While the weather may have been a factor, the worker, who did not want to be named, also said that the “hype died down” after the carnival's opening and the start of the school term, causing the crowds to have thinned.
“The rain is not entirely to blame... People might come once before they realise that the rides are quite expensive,” he added.
The carnival is open daily from 4pm to 11pm, except on New Year’s Eve, when opening hours were 3pm to 2am. More than 250,000 people have visited the carnival since it opened, the organisers said in a previous press release.
RIDES HALTED FOR A WHILE
The scene was somewhat different when TODAY visited the carnival on Tuesday afternoon (Jan 2). Some rides stopped temporarily during a massive downpour at about 4pm, and there was a slow trickle of visitors, many of whom were wearing slippers and rain ponchos.
At the Mach 5 ride, the tallest ride there which takes people 55m above ground, staff member Audrey Wong, 19, said that there were just 10 people in the first hour, compared to the 1,000 to 2,000 riders a day previously.
The rain also fell on eager visitors such as Mr Patrick Fok and his family, who showed up at 3.45pm even before the carnival doors opened. Mr Fok, who is in his 50s and works in the financial services sector, specially took leave from work — as did his wife. They wanted to accompany their teenage daughter, who had completed her A Levels, to the carnival, but they had to wait for the rain to subside.
“We chose to go today because there would be less crowds as school reopens... but (the weather) turned out to be worse than we expected,” Mr Fok said.
One game stall vendor, who did not want to be identified, said: “My favourite part of the job is seeing the kids enjoy themselves... but now (it has become) boring for us.... We get drenched and sick, and it’s quite irritating.”
Close to 6pm, after the rain subsided, groups of people started entering the carnival grounds in droves and the atmosphere livened up again.
LOOKING FORWARD TO BETTER BUSINESS
The forecast from the Meteorological Service Singapore is that rainy weather is expected to persist in the first half of January, with moderate to heavy thundery showers in the afternoons.
Some stallholders are optimistic that business will pick up in the next few months.
The director of food retailer Bows & Ties by Abracowdabra, who wanted to be known just as Danny, 41, noted that while the stall made a loss in the new year weekend because it had “rained for three days straight”, sales had been “quite good” overall, as it made about S$2,000 a day on average. The stall was selling food items such as pulled beef sliders and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Hopeful that people would continue to visit the carnival for the Chinese New Year period next month, he added: “We can’t always blame the weather. Many Singaporeans were overseas during the December period, so I think we will see a rise in sales.”
Mr Barnabas Chia, who leads the organising team for the fair, said that the carnival would remain open “rain or shine” and thanked those “who braved the rain to enjoy the carnival with their families and friends”.
“The turnout on New Year’s Eve was surprisingly good despite the heavy rain that lasted the entire night,” he said, adding that while some of the rides had to be closed during wet weather, game stalls remained open.
courtesy of TODAY
by Toh Ee Ming
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