And so it got me thinking about what makes a great tourist destination for children and families and what can we do better. Often I hear children talked about as nuisances, on planes, in restaurants and other public places. But what does it look like if we reframe this? If we welcome children and provide for them?
A few months ago I took my daughter on her first overseas holiday to Singapore. I was so excited when we booked it, then full of trepidation as the holiday approached. We were in middle of a difficult toddler period and I could not believe I had thought that getting on plane and going to a city full of unknowns for a week was good idea. It turns out all the fears were unfounded; we had a fantastic time.
And one of the things that made it great was that in our experience, Singapore truly was a child friendly city. Sure, it has some really fantastic places for children, such as the Zoo and Sentosa Island, but it went beyond this. A thoughtful and inclusive attitude seem to envelop children and this translated into how children were planned and catered for.
At the city's landmark Botanic Gardens, there is a whole garden devoted to creating a magical, playful experience for children and their families. We were awed by giant mushrooms, unexpected waterfalls, wobbly bridges and an exciting play space. At the café outside, child sized tables and chairs were in abundance.
Of course there was also the clean, wide streets, well sign posted and accessible public transport which made moving around a large city with a child that much easier.
But I think what made it feel child friendly, is that children were just treated like everyone else. It wasn't strange or weird to be out and about in the evening with a child, in fact we saw lots of children out for dinner or at the shops with their parents in the evening. 7pm seemed to be optimal children's ride time in the local shopping centres! Children were everywhere that adults were, and that was normal.
As a holiday destination for families, I would rate Singapore a 10/10, and my daughter had so much fun that six months on, she still talks about it and is adamant that any future holidays will be in the same place!
So if you want to make your business, area or city a truly great place for children and their families to visit, think inclusion. How can you make children feel welcome and wanted, rather than an afterthought or a nuisance? Because child friendly tourist destinations are great places for everyone!