Reliving Haw Par Villa’ – a Tourism50 national event

The crowds at 'Re-living Haw Par Villa' – a Tourism50 national event

Singapore History Consultants (SHC) was recently involved in ‘Reliving Haw Par Villa’, Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) lead event for the ‘Tourism50’ celebrations, held over the two weekends of 15 and 16 March, and 22 and 23. SHC had partnered its sister company, Journeys Pte Ltd, and developed a guided tour called Cultured Leopard, Rising Tiger: Finding Your Tao at Haw Par Villa, a public talk, an information booklet and exhibition storyboards — all about the history of Haw Par Villa.

The enthusiasm of the public was overwhelming. Dozens turned up even before registration officially opened at 9am for the first tours of the day at 9.30am. Even heavy rains on 16 March did not stop many from joining and following the tours. Umbrellas in hand, they continued listening intently to our Guides and taking in all our Guides had to share. There were 16 scheduled tours and 8 talks offered on each day.

Our Guides worked hard to showcase the rich heritage of Haw Par Villa, the inspiring – and partly tragic – story of the Aw family who created and maintained the park, and Tiger Balm, the ointment that made the family’s fortune. The guided tours also highlighted other hitherto little-known aspects of the park, especially the eclectic nature of the stories in the dioramas that dot the landscape.

Some 12,000 people visited Haw Par Villa on the four days and this probably brought back vivid memories for many of a place they had visited years ago, when the park was known as the Tiger Balm Garden. It was deeply gratifying to see more than 2,500 visitors attending the guided tours and over 900 participate in the public talks. One of Tampines GRC’s MP, Mr Baey Yam Keng, had heard about the tours and he came along on the second weekend with his family to join a guided tour. In fact, the response to the tours was so overwhelming that four extra tours each day were organised to meet the demand!

All in all, it was an intensive month-long preparation for the event but the unstinting support from all our staff and from STB and, most importantly, the response from the public, made all the blood, sweat and tears worthwhile. It was simply aw(e)some to see the huge crowds descend on what is arguably the enduring icon of the Aw Family – Haw Par Villa.

Click here to view photos of the event.


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