It is the most wonderful time of the year as far as the retail scene is concerned. Shopping malls are busy once again, cash tills are ringing ever merrily and, perhaps more important, Singapore's tourist numbers are rising. Despite the threat of online shopping to the domestic market and poor footfall numbers at certain malls, the Singapore retail scene has been a star performer in wooing the tourist dollar.
A report reveals that for the first time since 2012, shopping has overtaken gambling as the biggest earner in Singapore's tourism industry. Higher-spending visitors helped boost tourism receipts in the first half of this year. The readiness of tourists to spend more on shopping, accommodation, and food and beverage contributed, in fact, to offsetting a fall in sightseeing, entertainment and gaming. The Chinese, Indian and Indonesian markets played a strong role, with visitors from secondary cities such as Chongqing and Fuzhou attesting to the the vitality of the Singapore Tourism Board's marketing efforts.
Clearly, more attention could be paid to such markets within the broader imperative of attracting Asian visitors, given that more than one in four travellers at Changi Airport are either going to or coming from Jakarta, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong.
Unavoidably, Singapore is running out of novelty factors to attract tourists: The integrated resorts and Gardens by the Bay, for example, are no longer new. The challenge for the tourism authorities, therefore, is to constantly create fresh reasons for visiting Singapore. The imaginative reworking of the retail scene could be useful here. As an indication of what is possible, this year's Great Singapore Sale was held to coincide with China's summer holidays. Livening up the retail scene is one way for Singapore to remain nimble in meeting the demands of tourists.