Singapore retains spot as 5th most visited city in the world

Almost 14 million tourists came here last year, confirming Singapore as one of the world's most popular destinations.

The bumper number, 6.1 per cent up on 2016, allowed the country to retain its spot as the fifth most visited place out of 162 cities and second most visited in Asia-Pacific behind Bangkok.

Singapore also topped the table in tourist spending for the Asia-Pacific region and was fourth globally for the second year in a row, according to the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index out yesterday.

Visitors spent an average of US$286 (S$390) a day here, resulting in a total of US$17.02 billion last year, and stayed for an average of 4.3 nights.

The largest group of visitors came from China (18.8 per cent), followed by Indonesia (15 per cent), India (8.3 per cent), Australia (6.1 per cent) and Malaysia (5.2 per cent).

The total number of visitors of 13.91 million last year was well above the official growth forecast of 2.6 per cent, said the report.

"Singapore's diverse offerings from its vibrant events all year round, unique tourist attractions and world-renowned cuisine have enabled the city to hold its place as one of the top five most popular destinations globally," said Mastercard Singapore country manager Deborah Heng.

"The healthy year-on-year growth in visitor arrivals and the highest overall tourist expenditure in Asia demonstrates the strong partnerships between government and businesses in attracting travellers from all around the world."

The most popular destination in the world was Bangkok, with about 20 million visitors, followed by London, Paris, Dubai and Singapore, which edged out New York. The Big Apple attracted 13.13 million visitors last year.

Tourists splashed out the most in Dubai, with US$29.7 billion spent there last year. Mecca in Saudi Arabia came in second with US$18.45 billion, followed by London with US$17.45 billion, then Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore retains spot as 5th most visited city in the world'. Print Edition | Subscribe