It's not quite panda-monium yet - but some companies are already all geared up to jump on the panda bandwagon. They are rolling out souvenirs, such as panda-inspired bags and toys, to coincide with the arrival of Singapore's giant panda couple Kai Kai and Jia Jia tomorrow. The animals are on loan from China for 10 years and will be housed in an enclosure at the new River Safari in Mandai. The safari officially opens next year but visitors will be able to see the pandas from December. When Chinese giant pandas An An and Xin Xing were on display for 100 days in 1990 at the Singapore Zoo, they attracted more than 400,000 visitors. The souvenirs this time round include stamps by Singapore Post and commemorative coins issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The 50-cent to S$2 stamps feature illustrations of the pandas by actor Edmund Chen, who is SingPost's stamp ambassador. They will be sold at all post offices and at the Singapore Philatelic Museum from tomorrow. Woo Keng Leong, SingPost's executive vice-president and head of postal services, said the company is excited about celebrating the pandas' arrival, adding: "This is a major highlight in our stamp and philatelic calendar." Singapore Airlines (SIA), which is flying the pandas from China to Singapore, will offer limited-edition panda plush toys this weekend to raise funds for children with special needs. People who donate S$20 or more can choose a male or female panda plush toy clad in SIA's signature batik cloth. Information about where and when to donate can be found on SIA's website, singaporeair.com, under "Media Centre". Tourism and marketing experts said the pandas will boost tourism receipts - though their merchandising prowess might be muted, some noted. Ngee Ann Polytechnic's tourism senior lecturer Michael Chiam said: "The pandas' arrival is a local event compared with others such as the Olympics, so the big boys such as McDonald's may not be interested." He added some companies might be waiting for the pandas to endear themselves to the public before creating keepsakes and memorabilia. "Like Gardens by the Bay, once the panda exhibit opens, excitement will build and things may change," he said. Singapore Polytechnic marketing and retail lecturer Amos Tan said: "The first few years and the last year of the pandas' stay will probably be the most lucrative years for retailers. "Particularly in the last year, people will be reminded that the pandas will be returning to China." Source: Feng Zengkun, The Straits Times Link: http://www.asianewsnet.net/home/news.php?id=36002&sec=9
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