Visitor arrivals dip for first half-year

There are signs that the industry is on the road to recovery. Visitor arrivals have been on the rise since May, driven by large influxes from top markets like China and India.
There are signs that the industry is on the road to recovery. Visitor arrivals have been on the rise since May, driven by large influxes from top markets like China and India.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

The tourism industry here took a hit in the first half of this year, with visitor arrivals and spending falling.

Latest Singapore Tourism Board (STB) figures show the fall was due mainly to fewer business travellers, whose spending also declined. Visitors also spent less in key areas like shopping, accommodation, food & beverage, sightseeing and entertainment, as well as air fares and local transport.

From January to June this year, Singapore welcomed 7.3 million visitors, a 3 per cent dip from the same period last year. They spent $10.5 billion, down 12 per cent.

Hotel room revenue slid 2.2 per cent to $1.5 billion on the back of fewer arrivals and low room rates.

The top visitor market was Indonesia, followed by China, Malaysia, India and Australia. They accounted for more than half of the total visitors in the first half of the year.

There are signs that the industry is on the road to recovery. Visitor arrivals have been on the rise since May, driven by large influxes from top markets like China and India. The number of leisure visitors and their spending also rose - by 1 per cent - in the first half of the year.

The STB has stepped up efforts to woo visitors through marketing campaigns and funding attractions.

Over the next two years, the STB, Changi Airport Group and Singapore Airlines will spend $20 million to market Singapore as a tourism destination. The STB also forged partnerships with six major Chinese digital players to attract more independent visitors from China.

It is also working with travel website TripAdvisor on a microsite, which features a curated list of lesser-known destinations for tourists.

New attractions such as art museum National Gallery Singapore and theme park Kidzania, and events such as the Women's Tennis Association Finals 2015 will also promote growth.

Dr Michael Chiam, Ngee Ann Polytechnic's senior tourism lecturer, said the strong Singdollar and global economic slowdown may have played a role in the lacklustre half-year performance.

STB's strategy to attract quality tourists - those who spend more time here while spending more - will boost the industry, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2015, with the headline 'Visitor arrivals dip for first half-year'. Print Edition | Subscribe