The year 2016 ended on a high note for the Singapore tourism sector as visitor arrivals and tourism receipts exceeded forecasts and hit record highs, according to Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) Year-in-Review 2016.
Visitor arrivals increased 7.7 per cent to 16.4 million, while tourism receipts jumped even higher by 13.9 per cent and is expected to reach S$24.8 billion (US$17.4 billion), based on preliminary estimates.
China (up 36 per cent), Indonesia (up six per cent) and India (up eight per cent) topped the visitor arrival growth charts on the back of STB intensifying its marketing efforts in tier one and two cities in the three countries. Notably, India overtook Australia to emerge as the lion city’s fourth largest source market for visitor arrivals.
The surge in tourism receipts was largely due to the historical high of visitor arrivals, as well as increased spending on per-capita basis on F&B, shopping and accommodation.
On the other hand, the largest declines in visitor arrivals were posted by Hong Kong (down 12 per cent), Malaysia (down two per cent), Australia (down two per cent), South Korea (down two per cent) and Japan (down one per cent), a result of weaker economic performance in the first three source markets and Zika concerns for the latter two.
Business tourism was also in the spotlight in 2016 with STB supporting over 410 business events resulting in a 15 per cent year-on-year climb. These events recorded 343,000 visitor arrivals, bringing in approximately S$611 million in tourism receipts, a 20 per cent and 28 per cent year-on-year growth respectively.
The cruise industry was also another highlight, recording a 16 per cent year-on-year rise in passenger throughput to about 1.2 million and 10 maiden calls.
STB’s chief executive Lionel Yeo said: “We are heartened by the strong tourism sector performance in 2016. Despite challenges such as weaker economic performance in some of Singapore’s top source markets and a Zika virus outbreak, Singapore has managed to attract more quality visitors to contribute to economic growth.”
Looking ahead in 2017, STB noted the challenges of global economic and political uncertaincies as well as a rising regional competition for tourism dollars, but forecasts tourism receipts to be in the range of S$25.1-S$25.8 billion (one to four per cent growth) and international visitor arrivals to be in the range of 16.4-16.7 million (up to two per cent growth).