International visitor arrivals up 7%

Rise in June numbers driven by growth in Indian and Chinese markets, says STB

The arrival porch at Changi Airport's Terminal 3.
The arrival porch at Changi Airport's Terminal 3.PHOTO: ST FILE

Fuelled by a surge in visitors from two of the world's most populous nations, Singapore received 7 per cent more international visitors in June this year, compared with the same month last year.

"This was driven by good growth rates from some top source markets such as China and India," said Singapore Tourism Board (STB) yesterday.

In June this year, 221,373 Chinese tourists visited Singapore, a 35 per cent rise from June last year. There were 111,988 visitors from India during the same period - a 9 per cent rise according to STB figures released yesterday.

Chinese tourists made up nearly a fifth of the more than 8 million visitors to Singapore in the first half of this year.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic senior tourism lecturer Michael Chiam said the rise in Chinese tourists could be a result of STB's efforts to draw visitors from secondary Chinese cities like Chengdu, Xiamen and Chongqing.

While tourist arrivals have gone up, the rate of growth has slowed.

The 7 per cent rise in tourist arrivals for June pales in comparison with the 17 per cent rise in visitor arrivals in March this year from March last year.

Mr Chiam said the slowdown could be due to the "intense competition" from other countries in the region, like South Korea and Japan. The strong Singapore dollar may also have made Singapore less attractive than other countries, he added.

STB did not give tourist receipt figures for June, but did so for the first quarter of this year.

While visitor numbers rose 14 per cent from January to March this year, compared with the same period last year, tourist receipts grew just 2 per cent to reach $5.4 billion.

Spending on sightseeing, entertainment and gaming fell 21 per cent to $1.08 billion. An STB spokesman said the fall was "due largely to the decline in gaming revenue as reported by the integrated resorts".

But a significant increase in tourist spending on shopping, accommodation and food and beverage compensated for the fall, she said.

Spending on shopping increased by 25 per cent to $1.2 billion, and accommodation grew 7 per cent to $1.17 billion. Spending on food and beverage rose 14 per cent to $606 million.

Said Mr Chiam: "In the past, we had the high rollers and big spenders who bought luxury goods. Now, it's more of the budget-conscious people who like to travel, but they are, perhaps, cautious about spending, given the economic forecast."

The STB spokesman said the hotel room revenue for gazetted hotels, which are mainly in prime or tourist areas and charge only nightly rates, was estimated at $0.8 billion for the first quarter, a year-on-year growth of 4.6 per cent.

While the average occupancy rate has gone up, the revenue for each available room dropped by 2.3 per cent year-on-year due to a drop in average room rate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2016, with the headline 'International visitor arrivals up 7%'. Print Edition | Subscribe