Tourist arrivals and spending hit record highs in 2013; spending growth slowest since 2009

Two Chinese tourists leaving the Gucci outlet at Paragon. Singapore welcomed a record 15.5 million tourists last year, with arrivals rising 7.2 per cent from 2012. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Two Chinese tourists leaving the Gucci outlet at Paragon. Singapore welcomed a record 15.5 million tourists last year, with arrivals rising 7.2 per cent from 2012. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Singapore welcomed a record 15.5 million tourists last year, with arrivals rising 7.2 per cent from 2012.

Although tourist spending also hit a record $23.5 billion, the 1.6 per cent growth in 2013 was the slowest since 2009, according to preliminary estimates by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) released Monday.

The slower growth in spending was led by business travellers, who spent 6 per cent less between January and September last year, compared to the same period in 2012.

STB attributed this to a cutback in corporate travel budgets.

Leisure visitors, on the other hand, spent 10 per cent more between January and September last year.

Gazetted hotel room revenue rose 3.9 per cent to an estimated $2.9 billion.

The slower growth in tourism spending was also due to lower airfares, with low-cost carriers flying more passengers to Singapore.

STB chief executive Lionel Yeo said even as more people choose to fly on low-cost carriers, they can also be "high-yielding" visitors who spend more on accommodation, food, sightseeing and entertainment.

As such, he said STB wants to reach out to these travellers and better tailor itineraries to suit their needs.

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