How Singapore Failed the Vulcano – A story of greed

A story of how Singapore failed to take this onetime chance of marketing opportunity, stranded people and need for sudden decisions in turning bad to good.

singapore stranded beach

Shit Happens – Volcanoes need to Poo too

Somewhere in Iceland a volcano erupted about a week ago. Shit happens. Trees fall in the woods and waves roll along the shore. However this volcano was big, and had a weird name. And because it was big everything it spat out should sooner or later float over the rest of Europe. The results were beautiful sunsets on Europe’s evening sky and basically empty skies during the rest of the day.

That’s not only bad but very unfortunate for everyone who was waiting in Hawaii Shorts and the desperate need for some recovery time to go home and all those in Hawaii Shirts with the desperate need of some recovery time heading to go for some holiday.

However, both ways wouldn’t happen for the next 7 days or so.

“Suddenly” is not Allowed in Singapore

And suddenly every city on this planet with an airport nearby had an unpredictable amount of excessive tourists that would soon start to need beds, food, help and of course entertainment. One should assume we have plenty of all those in Singapore. People from all over the world, spread all over the world, globalization with the help of volcano ash. Who had expected that? No one – exactly!

  • Suddenly – More – Tourists – In – Singapore – To – Help, right?No!Suddenly – More – Tourists – WITH MONEY – In – Singapore – To – Help!

If the word “suddenly” hadn’t be, Singapore would have had some perfectly planned and executed campaign to take care of all those people and their needs, most probably something that would include words like “movement” or “kindness”.

But… there it was, and one of the biggest since years.. Suddenly!

So damn Shortsighted and Inflexible

I had a friend talking to me recently who moved to Singapore after working in Hong Kong for 3 years. One of his first comments on Singapore concluded that people here are massively inflexible and stolidly, even stubbornly in their way of thinking and acting.

That, he assumed, would simply be due to the “easiness” of living here. Everything is provided for, extremely easy and practically to handle, from the use of the public transport system, to the registration of your TV, people do not have to think and act in impulse. It’s not the failure of the people, but their surroundings in which they grow up.

Singapore Will Help, Same Same – But Different

Let’s assume you walk along the beach and suddenly you find a stranded person lying in the sand, thirsty, graving for food and water, what do you do? Well, if you are only half way human you will try to save that person, drag him to the next waterhole and bring him back to life.

If that person walking along the beach is Singapore, you would do something else. You would first put up a perfect smile and tell that stranded person “We are currently in the process of examining this situation and will take appropriate action when needed, please wait”.

Then you consider how much a bottle of water would cost, double that price and offer it to the desperate person in need. Once that person has recovered, emptied their pockets to you and is on their way back home, you will be faced with critical questions by people having observed the situation. Your sole answer will be “We are currently in the process of examining this situation and will take appropriate action when needed, dont ask again”.

Singapore Tourism Board, Where the hell are You?

Thousands and thousands of people stranded in your country or city, homeless, not knowing what to do and willing to give your place another in depth excursion. The dream of every Tourism Board.

And most cities reacted accordingly. All over the world Tourism Boards were using the situation to market their ass off. Make those people feel taken care of, make them come home one day and tell all their friends how well everything was handled and that they felt welcome and not stranded.

Disneyland offered free tickets for all people waiting to get their flights home, New York created guides and lists of “cheap” activities and day plans for all those people stranded and tight on money anyways, Lonely Planet gave out free guides, hotels and restaurants would be able to offer 30% discounts with the help of the government, so basically.. everyone marketed their ass of.

It was a once in many years chance, cheaper and more effective then any online or print campaign. Get it?

Now let’s see, all Singapore did was doubling the Hotel room prices, stacking tourists in the airport staff quarters and releasing some official comment days later.. you can guess what it said right?




I remember watching a segment about the stranded passengers at Changi on Channel 5 news a few night ago. The reporter said that “Singapore Tourism Board officials say that they are ‘monitoring the situation closely.’ They also added that ‘it is too soon to say how this disruption will impact this quarter’s tourism numbers.”

My immediate reaction on hearing that was who cares about your damn numbers!? Why aren’t you taking care of the tourists already here instead of worrying about the hypothetical tourists of the future! What incompetence.

That wasn’t the end of it though. The segment continued with something about how international mail delivery too is stuck because of flight cancellations. This was the quote from SingPost: “We are monitoring the situation closely. Nevertheless mail delivery will resume as soon as flights start operating again. But it may take some time to clear the backlog.” Well duh. A six year old can tell you the same thing looking at the situation.

Brian McGuire

Interesting. I inquired with the Straights Times if there was a way I could open up my home to a needy stranded family. I heard nothing back from them. Nor did I hear a request from Singapore authorities to do the same.
So when I heard from a friend in the UK that a family she knew was stranded with two children, I quickly took them into our home and they are still waiting for a flight out to the UK


I actually read in the paper that the Tourism Board offered free city tours to all the stranded passengers in Changi and thought that was a brilliant idea…

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