Singapore ranked 2nd most visited city in Asia-Pacific and is top in terms of tourist spending

Mrs Vicki Godden, a clerk and tourist from Australia, taking pictures with one of the characters embedded within the interactive digital screen of the installation at Pagoda Street exit of the Chinatown MRT, on April 10, 2017.
Mrs Vicki Godden, a clerk and tourist from Australia, taking pictures with one of the characters embedded within the interactive digital screen of the installation at Pagoda Street exit of the Chinatown MRT, on April 10, 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore has emerged as the second most visited destination in the Asia-Pacific region by international visitors in 2016 and No. 1 in terms of the amount spent by visitors.

Bangkok led the pack of Asia-Pacific cities with 19.41 million visitors last year, while Singapore had 13.22 million. The visitors to Bangkok spent US$14.1 billion (S$19 billion), while those to Singapore spent US$15.7 billion.

This is according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released on Tuesday (Sept 26).

On a global scale, out of 132 cities, Singapore was the fifth most visited in 2016 - up from sixth in 2015 - while New York dropped one position to the sixth at 12.7 million visitors.

Top of the global list was Bangkok, followed by London, Paris and Dubai, all retaining their positions from 2015.

Most visitors to Singapore were from China, with 2.3 million Chinese visiting in 2016, compared with just 712,000 in 2009. This was followed by 2 million Indonesian visitors, 1 million Indians and 802,000 Australians.

The MasterCard data tallies with information from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in a report by The Straits Times in July. That data showed that visitors from China spent an estimated S$3.52 billion here in 2016, a 39 per cent or nearly S$1 billion increase from 2015.

It also showed that 2016 was the second year in a row that China emerged as Singapore's top-spending market, beating Indonesia, which has traditionally been the top spender.

Ms Deborah Heng, country manager, MasterCard Singapore, said Singapore's "world class offerings" from tourist attractions to medical services to its transport system helped push the city to its top five global destination position.

"With tourism a key contributor to Singapore's economy, it's also notable that this year-on-year growth in visitor arrivals is accompanied by the highest overall tourist expenditure in Asia. This excellent showing demonstrates how collaboration between the public and private sectors can drive the right results for the local economy," she said.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic senior lecturer in tourism Michael Chiam said Singapore was popular because the city state has "a lot to offer to people from all age groups as well as people with different interest".

He cited as an example a family with children being able to go to theme parks, those with an interest in musicals being able to catch Broadway shows at one of the various show venues here and how those interested in gastronomy are "spoilt for choice with different cuisines and price points".