Visitor arrivals to Singapore down 2.8% in H1 2014

Visitor arrivals to Singapore down 2.8% in H1 2014

INTERNATIONAL visitor arrivals to Singapore in the first half of 2014 dropped by 2.8 per cent year on year to 7.5 million, due mainly to a decline in the number of Chinese visitors who stay for one day or less, according to recent data by the Singapore Tourism Board.

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Here's the statement from the Singapore Tourism Board:

International visitor arrivals to Singapore for the first half of 2014 hit 7.5 million, with 1.2 million of them coming in the month of June. This is a dip of 2.8 per cent year-on-year, due mainly to a decline in Chinese visitor arrivals that stay for one day or less. Excluding China, visitor arrivals from the other markets grew 2.3 per cent over the same six-month period.

In the first half of 2014, the number of Chinese visitors fell 30 per cent year-on-year, following the implementation of the new China Tourism Law in October 2013. In addition to China's new tourism law, the tragic disappearance of flight MH370, abduction of Chinese tourists in Sabah and political unrest in Thailand have all had a dampening effect on Chinese travel to this region.

The decline in Chinese visitor arrivals was mostly from those who stayed in Singapore for a day or less. The number of Chinese visitors that stayed for at least two days jumped by 21 per cent year-on-year to hit 406,000 visitors in the first half of 2014.

This resulted in the average length of stay by Chinese visitors increasing by 56 per cent year-on-year, from an average of 2.7 days in the first half of last year to 4.2 days this year. This puts it above the overall average length of stay across all markets that came in at 3.7 days for the first half of the year.

"We are heartened to see an increase in Chinese visitors who visit Singapore as a single destination and stay for at least two days. This shows that we have been reaching out to the right target audience and providing them with an experience that they value and enjoy," says Mr Yap Chin Siang, Assistant Chief Executive, Policy & Planning Group of the Singapore Tourism Board.

Another bright note is in tourism receipts, a more accurate barometer of tourism economic health. Based on STB's tourism performance report for the first quarter of this year, tourism receipts continued to grow at 5 per cent year-on-year to hit S$6 billion, while visitor arrivals held steady over the same period. For Chinese visitors in particular, their spending dipped only marginally (-1%) in Q1 2014 though visitor arrivals dropped by 14 per cent. This effect is similarly observed for other countries such as Australia, Malaysia, Japan and the United Kingdom.

"These positive movements are in-line with STB's yield-driven strategy and pursuit of quality tourism," Mr Yap adds.

From January to June 2014, gazetted hotel room revenue rose 8.8 per cent to S$1.6 billion. Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) held steady at S$218, as the 1.2 per cent decline in Average Occupancy Rate was offset by a 1.2 per cent increase in Average Room Rate.

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