Tourist arrivals up while spending on shopping, accommodation and F&B falls in first quarter

Some 4.6 million visitors arrived in January to March but tourist spending dipped, especially in areas of accommodation and F&B. Ngee Ann Polytechnic's senior tourism lecturer Michael Chiam suggests that this is because of some visitors staying with
Some 4.6 million visitors arrived in January to March but tourist spending dipped, especially in areas of accommodation and F&B. Ngee Ann Polytechnic's senior tourism lecturer Michael Chiam suggests that this is because of some visitors staying with relatives.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Some 4.6 million visitors arrived in Singapore in the first quarter of this year, a 7.3 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Tourist spending meanwhile dipped 0.5 per cent to $6.7 billion due to lower spending in areas like shopping (-9 per cent), accommodation (-13 per cent) and food and beverage (-16 per cent), the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) revealed on Friday (Aug 24).

Gazetted hotel room revenue for January to March, meanwhile, grew by 8.5 per cent year on year to reach an estimated $1 billion, while the revenue per available room increased by 4 per cent year on year due to higher average room and occupancy rates.

Visitors spent more on sightseeing, entertainment and gaming - an increase of 6 per cent to $1.5 million - while a miscellaneous category that covers things like airfare expenditure on Singapore-based carriers, local transportation, and business and medical tourism, grew by 22 per cent to $1.8 million, forming the largest share of spending.

China, Indonesia and India remained the biggest source of visitors and spending, with nearly a million Chinese visitors spending $1 billion, excluding sightseeing, entertainment and gaming. About half of this was spent on shopping.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic's senior tourism lecturer Michael Chiam said that the discrepancy between accommodation spending and hotel revenue can be attributed to Chinese New Year, with some visitors staying with relatives instead of at hotels.

The higher volume of arrivals, meanwhile, would lead to an overall increase in revenue for hotels, Dr Chiam said.

The dip in F&B spending could also be due in part to the festive season, he said.

"If relatives visit, it's probably more of a gathering at home, not so much at restaurants, so things like catering are not factored in, and that's probably one of the reasons," said Dr Chiam.