SINGAPORE - Singapore welcomed 0.9 per cent more international visitors in 2015, but tourism receipts fell for the first time since 2009 as an uncertain global economic outlook and weak currencies in some of the top markets kept a lid on spending.
Preliminary estimates show 15.2 million people visited the city-state last year, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said in a statement.
Tourism receipts fell 6.8 per cent to S$22 billion (US$15.6 billion), hurt by fewer visitors for business travel and meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibition (BTMICE).
The fall in BTMICE visitors and spending due to companies cutting back on both travel and trip budgets has had a significant impact on tourism receipts as these visitors spend about two times more than the average leisure visitor, Singapore Tourism Board Chief Executive Lionel Yeo said.
The STB forecast 2016 visitor arrivals of 15.2-15.7 million, which is flat to a 3 per cent rise. It expects tourism receipts to be in the range of S$22-S$22.4 billion, or flat to a 2 per cent rise.
Singapore, which relies on tourism for about 4 per cent of its economic output, has over the years built itself into a tourist destination famous for its glitzy malls, street food, casinos and the night Formula One race.
Tumbling local currencies have hit travellers from Indonesia, the city-state's biggest market, and Malaysia, but efforts to promote Singapore in smaller Indian and Chinese cities are paying off, STB data showed.
Visitors from China, the second-largest market, grew 22 per cent in 2015, although they spent 5 per cent less as of the third quarter.