More China tourists visiting S'pore again

Chinese tourists are gradually returning to Singapore though there are still fewer of them compared to two years ago.

Over 133,000 of them visited Singapore in October last year, about 13 per cent more than the nearly 118,000 who visited in the same month in 2013, according to figures released by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) last month.

From January to September last year, the number of Chinese visitors arriving here each month was between 0.5 per cent and 51.6 per cent lower than the same month in 2013.

This is the first time there has been a positive change and STB said it is partly because October 2013 was when a new tourism law in China took effect, bringing down the number of visitors from the country. The law stipulated that tours sold in China for domestic and overseas travel must clearly list itineraries, duration and details of transport, hotels and meals.

Hence the comparison was made against a lower base figure than the previous months before the law came into effect.

STB has not released tourist figures for the end of last year, but some travel agencies have already seen a growth in the number of China tourists for October to December last year compared to 2013.

The figure was higher by about 10 per cent for Chan Brothers Travel and by about 20 per cent for Lex Travel.

These companies said that market sentiments have become better and the Chinese currency has grown stronger.

They also added that the Indonesia AirAsia QZ8501 incident is not likely to have a significant impact on visitors from China in the long run, unlike the missing Flight MH370 incident which had mainly Chinese passengers on board.

Efforts to woo back tourists from China have "yielded encouraging results", said STB, which currently targets high-spending Chinese visitors who stay here longer and spend more.

Its director of research, Ms Shameem Mustaffa, said: "We expect a gradual and sustainable growth in the segment of Chinese tourists who travel specially to Singapore only and want high-quality experiences.

"We are less likely to see a dramatic rebound in the segment of tourists who go for multiple-destination budget itineraries."

Chinese tourists who come to Singapore are also shifting away from group tours to free and easy travel, said Ms Alicia Seah, the director of marketing communications for Dynasty Travel.

She added: "They are coming back, but there are still not as many as before."

This article was first published on Jan 4, 2015.
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