A plan to demolish one of Singapore’s most famous attractions, the Sentosa island merlion statue, as part of a S$90 million (US$65.3 million) redevelopment, has prompted a wave of nostalgia in China, the city state’s biggest tourism market. Sentosa Development Corporation announced on Friday that the merlion would shut on October 20 to make way for a corridor linking the north and south of the island, The Straits Times reported. One of seven merlions in Singapore, the Sentosa statue is the tallest at 37 metres (121 feet) and has a lift to take visitors to the top for views across the island. More than 3.4 million people visited Singapore from mainland China last year, up 6 per cent from the year before, according to the Singapore Tourism Board. News of the demolition of the Sentosa merlion drew 90 million views on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, and prompted more than 8,200 comments by Monday afternoon. “I think a single statue won’t affect the new development in the area and it’s all right to leave it there,” one Weibo user wrote. Fans of the merlion also had their say on China’s WeChat service. “Whenever I visited Sentosa, I would take pictures in front of the merlion. It will remain in my memory forever,” one wrote. Are Singaporean ‘tourists’ in North Korea actually eyeing ‘last untapped market’? “I travelled to Singapore in July and I saw the merlion on Sentosa,” another said. “It is magnificent – I feel a bit of pity for its demolition.” Others were less sentimental. “It’s the domestic affair of Singaporeans,” a Weibo user wrote, saying defenders of the merlion had nothing better to do. “What’s the point of Chinese internet users being worried? You are simply too idle.” The merlion – a hybrid with the body of a fish and the head of a lion – will make way for the Sentosa Sensoryscape leisure development, which will include a themed thoroughfare linking the island’s north and south shores and is aimed at rejuvenating Singapore’s southern tourist attractions, according to The Straits Times . “We won't relocate the merlion because of its size,” development corporation chief Quek Swee Kuan was quoted by Malaysian newspaper The Star as saying, “But we are considering how to commemorate it.” Quek said a new figurehead was being considered for Sentosa but he did not elaborate. Singapore’s nightlife boring? Unshackle us from the red tape and it won’t be, operators say In July, nearly 390,000 travellers from mainland China visited Singapore, up almost 8 per cent from a year earlier and an increase of about 46 per cent on June. Ctrip, one of China’s most popular travel services websites, said its research found that Chinese tourist numbers to Singapore over the past three months rose 36 per cent year on year.