'Singapore' topped Google search list in the US on eve of Trump-Kim summit

Published Thu, Jun 14, 2018 · 09:50 PM
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AS images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un strolling by revellers at the top of Marina Bay Sands the night before an unprecedented meeting with US President Donald Trump circulated around social media sites, US citizens started asking "Where is Singapore?".

"Singapore", which hosted the landmark summit on Tuesday, was the most searched term on Internet search engine Google in the US on Monday with over two million hits.

Related searches during those 24 hours included "Where is Singapore", "Singapore summit" and "Time in Singapore".

Blanket media coverage on Monday included Mr Kim's surprise tour of the iconic MBS integrated resort and the nearby Gardens By The Bay, and the first hours of the meeting with Mr Trump at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa.

Singapore said it spent S$20 million on the summit, a figure that drew the ire of some citizens.

However, marketing experts say the coverage generated from the event could be worth more than 10 times that.

"It places Singapore on the map for international audiences," said Oliver Chong, executive director of communications and marketing capability at the Singapore Tourism Board.

Tourism contributes around 4 per cent to Singapore's GDP per annum. Visitor arrivals hit a record 17.4 million last year boosted by China, its top market, and India.

But just months ago, lifestyle magazine Time Out ranked Singapore among the world's least exciting cities.

Andrew Darling, the CEO and founder of communications agency West Pier Ventures, said it would cost more than S$200 million to generate the kind of publicity Singapore has received so far by hosting the summit.

Media intelligence firm Meltwater said the coverage over the three days around the summit equated to US$270 million of advertising, while the month leading up to it was worth US$767 million.

"The Trump-Kim Summit has arguably been the single most important event that brought Singapore to the attention of the most people around the world," said Jason Tan of media advertising agency Zenith Singapore.

"For many Asians, Singapore as the choice of destination reinforces our image as an efficient and safe country. For Americans who might not be as familiar with Asia, the summit definitely brought Singapore into the global spotlight."

Still, even some who should know better struggled to accurately place Singapore - known as the Little Red Dot in reference to its depiction on a map.

The US State Department mistakenly made Singapore a part of neighbouring Malaysia in a note issued in connection with the summit, drawing a slew of snide comments on social media. REUTERS

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