Singapore visitor arrivals hit record high in 2018, while tourism spending rose 1pc

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said total visitor arrivals for 2018 hit 18.5 million, up 6.2 per cent from 2017. — Reuters pic
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said total visitor arrivals for 2018 hit 18.5 million, up 6.2 per cent from 2017. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, Feb 13 — Visitor arrivals to the Republic last year hit a record high that far exceeded targets, while preliminary estimates of tourism spending showed a modest increase.

In its Year-In-Review for 2018 released today, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said total visitor arrivals for 2018 hit 18.5 million, up 6.2 per cent from 2017.

This was driven by double-digit growth in visitor arrivals from India, US, Vietnam and the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, preliminary estimates for tourism receipts (TR) for last year showed a 1 per cent increase from 2017 to S$27.1 billion (RM81.33 billion), as a drop in shopping, accommodation and food and beverage spending was offset by higher spending in sightseeing, entertainment and gaming.

This is the third consecutive year of strong growth for the tourism sector, the STB said.

A closer look at tourism spending in 2018

  • 22 per cent of overall spending was on sightseeing, entertainment and gaming
  • 20 per cent on shopping
  • 21 per cent on accommodation
  • 9 per cent on food and beverage
  • 28 per cent on other TR components, such as airfares on Singapore-based carriers, local transportation and medical expenditure.

Spending on sightseeing, entertainment and gaming rose 6 per cent last year from 2017, while spending on other TR components increased by 21 per cent.

But spending fell in three categories: Shopping fell 14 per cent, accommodation dropped 5 per cent and food and beverage slipped 4 per cent.

Tourists spent less on souvenir and gifts, and had shorter lengths of stay in Singapore.

The top spenders between January and September last year came from:

  • China (S$3.1 billion)
  • Indonesia (S$2.1 billion)
  • India (S$1.3 billion)

2018 highlights

Crazy Rich Asians fever: STB noted that organic search interest in Singapore on Google increased in the United States by more than three times during the movie's release last August.

STB also saw over 527 million earned media impressions after the movie, which it helped to co-market.

Trump-Kim Summit: STB said the historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in June 2018 helped to showcase Singapore as a destination of choice for business events.

China reigns supreme again: For the second year running, China was the Republic’s top visitor source market in 2018. Some 3.4 million Chinese tourists visited Singapore, representing a 6 per cent increase from 2017.

Japan’s revitalisation: STB saw record visitor arrival numbers from Japan, a mature market, last year. For the first three quarters of last year, Japanese visitors spent S$820 million, 9 per cent higher than in the same period the year before.

2019 targets

  • Visitor arrival targets: 18.7 to 19.2 million (up 1 to 4 per cent from 2018)
  • TR targets: S$27.3 to S$27.9 billion (up 1 to 3 per cent from 2018)

Asia-Pacific tourism is growing, with increased air connectivity, the STB noted. However, challenges remain, such as geopolitical risks, which could result in a slowdown in China visitor arrivals, an uncertain global economic outlook and regional competition.

STB says

“We are pleased that Singapore’s tourism sector performed well in 2018 despite some economic uncertainties. We were fortunate to have benefited from a confluence of positive factors such as strong Asia-Pacific travel demand, increased flight connectivity to Singapore, and various high-profile events,” said STB chief executive Keith Tan. — TODAY

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