Singapore’s tourism receipts from “sightseeing, entertainment and gaming” fell 16 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters during 2016.
But the headline number of international tourists to the city-state reached an annual record 16.4-million in full-year 2016 according to data released by the Singapore Tourism Board on Tuesday. That represented 7.7-percent year-on-year growth and was at least 4.7 percentage points above the tourism board’s earlier forecasts.
Singapore’s overall 2016 tourism receipts rose by 13.9 percent, to SGD24.8 billion (US$17.5 billion), on the back of visitors spending more on food and beverages, shopping and accommodation, said the tourism board, quoting preliminary estimates.
In the Singapore casino market – unlike the Macau gaming market – there is no observable correlation between overall numbers of tourists and the casino gross gaming revenue performance of the casinos.
Nonetheless, Singapore’s stated aim in allowing two casino resorts to open in 2010 was to boost the city-state’s gross domestic product and its tourism receipts in general.
Singapore has two so-called integrated resorts – large complexes each containing a casino, hotel accommodation, shopping malls and entertainment: Marina Bay Sands, promoted by Las Vegas Sands Corp, and Resorts World Sentosa, promoted by Genting Singapore Plc.
The latest tourism board data showed that in aggregate terms tourism receipts from sightseeing, entertainment and gaming were nearly SGD3.29 billion in the nine months to September 30 – an 18 percent share of all tourism receipts for the period.
The city-state did not give a breakdown for the contribution of those various activities in that headline number, but the tourism board noted the year-on-year decline in that tally was affected by “lower gaming revenue reported by integrated resorts”.
Following a peak of 15.6 million arrivals in full-year 2013, annual growth in tourist arrivals to Singapore had stalled, declining to 15.1 million in 2014 and 15.2 million in 2015.
While for many regulated casino jurisdictions in Asia, mainland Chinese tourists are much-sought for their perceived interest in gambling; Singapore – with its significant ethnic Chinese population and long history as a trading and investment hub – has long attracted mainland visitors.
Coinciding with – though not necessarily due to – China’s anti-graft drive of the past few years, the number of mainland Chinese visitors to Singapore had moderated recently. Thanks possibly to high profile marketing campaigns and stabilisation in China’s economic outlook, mainland China visitor numbers seem to be recovering rapidly.
There was a 36 percent year-on-year increase in mainland Chinese tourism arrivals in 2016, pushing the aggregate number of such visitors to 2.86 million – second only to the 2.89 million supplied by Indonesia.
Growth in the number of mainland China visitors far outstripped that from any other source market.
The number of visitors from Hong Kong was down 12 percent year-on-year. The decline for Hong Kong was largely attributed to its weaker economic performance said the bureau.
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"Our rolling chip business [at Tigre de Cristal casino, in the Russian Far East], targeting Asian customers, has achieved substantial growth as we continue to address the underserved Northeast Asian market"
Lawrence Ho Yau Lung
Chairman of gaming investor Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd