A new marketing drive by the Singapore Tourism Board and a growing number of Chinese visitors are helping Singapore’s tourism sector recover this year.
A total of 5.53 million tourists visited Singapore in the first four months of 2016, up by 14.1 percent year-on-year, according to data from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) released this month. The strong pickup in tourist numbers has been driven by arrivals of Chinese visitors; a customer segment that has recovered strongly since mid-2015, after earlier declines.
The number of visitors from China increased by 53.2 percent year-on-year in the four months to April 30, to 1.02 million. They accounted for 18.4 percent of the aggregate number of visitors to Singapore in the period, meaning China overtook Indonesia as Singapore’s largest single source market for tourists.
The STB has said that better connections by air, serving second-tier Chinese cities, helped to boost overall inbound tourist numbers. Chinese visitors are viewed as an important target group for Singapore’s casino resorts.
Following a peak of 15.6 million arrivals in 2013, growth in tourist arrivals to Singapore has stalled, declining to 15.1 million in 2014 and 15.2 million in 2015. According to the STB, it is expected there will be up to 15.7 million arrivals by visitors in 2016, representing a growth of up to 3 percent year-on-year.
Credit Suisse Group AG said in an April report that tourist arrivals to Singapore this year would probably exceed the STB forecasts, climbing as much as 8 percent, to 16.5 million, compared to 2015.
The Credit Suisse team stated it expected Singapore to continue to benefit from the growth in Chinese outbound travel. The report added that extensive STB marketing initiatives as well as improved aviation links to Chinese cities “are likely to drive growth in the medium term”.
In April, the Singapore government announced that it would be investing SGD700 million (US$521.8 million) during the period 2016 to 2020, in order to boost tourism to the city state.
“We believe the market is underestimating STB’s extensive digital marketing efforts in China, which has kept Singapore a popular destination for Chinese tourists,” said Credit Suisse.
“With Chinese outbound travel growth unabated, Singapore should also continue to benefit from a recovery in arrivals across ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] as part of a regional tour package,” it added.
Spending among visitors to Singapore fell by 7.6 percent in 2015, as tourism receipts reached SGD21.8 billion, according to official data.
The Singapore government doesn’t give a detailed breakdown of tourism receipts from the city-state’s two casino resorts, but it said that during 2015 “sightseeing, entertainment and gaming expenditure recorded the largest absolute decrease year-on-year”, falling 13 percent compared to 2014.
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