The first quarter for Singapore’s tourism industry has thrown mixed results. At the back of economic slowdown and global uncertainties, tourist arrivals have increased by 1% year on year to reach a figure of 4.7 million even as their spending has gone down.
According to figures from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) as a part of its quarterly report, $6.5 billion spending was recorded in the first quarter of 2019 which is a decline of 4.8% when compared to the spending in the first quarter of 2018.
The corresponding figures for accommodation was down 12%, food and beverages were down 7%, shopping was down 7% and others that include gaming, entertainment and sightseeing saw a decline of 3% in spending.
The only category that saw the visitors spending more than in 2018 was the miscellaneous category which includes local transportation, expenditure on airfare in Singapore based airlines and medical tourism.
This grew by 2% and reached a figure of $1.86 billion which interestingly contributes maximum share to tourism spending.
The revenue for hotel rooms in the gazetted category increased by 4.3% surpassing the $1 billion mark.
This is being largely attributed to 1% increase in the average tariff for the rooms to S$222.
India, Indonesia and China accounted for the largest stage of visitors to Singapore with the arrivals remaining largely stable.
The case of Singapore isn’t alone as tourism industry is in the red in most other countries.
Tourist receipts have fallen 6% in India and 4% in Britain. Malaysia and Philippines have been hit hard with the figures corresponding to last year down 34% and 18% respectively.
China has been the biggest contributor for the tourism industry in Singapore. Close to a million visitors from China visited Singapore spending more than $1 billion.
This however excludes entertainment, sightseeing and gaming. This figure is a 1% dip as compared to last year. More than half of the spending from Chinese tourists is in the shopping category which makes them the highest spender for this category in Singapore.
United States’ tourist receipts has seen massive growth in this period as the country saw 15% increase in spending during this period compared to last year with accommodation accounting for the highest spending.
According to Poh Chi Chuan, Director for Digital Transformation at Singapore Tourism Board the decrease in earnings can be attributed to the present uncertainties in the global economy compounded by the tensions between China and the United States as well as the fluctuations of the currencies with respect to the Singapore dollar.
He added that there was a small increase in visitors who had spent less time in Singapore given the way they planned their trips.
This included cruise passengers, day trippers and people who had clubbed their visit to Singapore visit with other destinations.
Mr Poh noted that four out of 10 major sources of Singapore’s tourists registered growth and this include United States, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.
He however mentioned that the board is cautiously optimistic about the tourism industry given several global factors that may affect travel sentiments and spending.
The Singapore Tourism Board had predicted the overall tourism spending to grow by 1-3% for this year and expects between 18.7 million and 19.2 million tourists to visit this year which would be a 1-4% growth compared to last year.