The latest report from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) revealed that the number of people traveling to Singapore has increased, however, these tourists have opted to stay frugal in their expenses especially on choosing where to stay.
In the first six months of 2019, over 9 million tourists have come to Singapore, a 1.3% increase from the same six-month period in 2018. But these tourists’ spending only totaled S$13.1 billion, a 3% decline from the same period last year.
Mr Poh Chi Chuan, STB’s director of digital transformation, said that the decline in tourism receipts can be attributed to tourists becoming cautious due to “ongoing risk and uncertainties in the global economy”, such as the trade tensions between the United States and China, Britain’s looming exit from the European Union, as well as currency fluctuations against the Singapore dollar.
Mr Poh added that there was also a slight increase in visitors who spent less time in Singapore due to the way their travel itineraries have been structured, including tourists like cruise passengers or those visiting Singapore en route to other destinations. These visitors tend to spend less too.
According to Mr Poh, the decline in tourism receipts was because more visitors have chosen to check in at lower-tier hotels, or with friends and relatives.
A tourism lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Mr Michael Chiam said that this is because travelers want to tighten their purse strings and usually cut their spending on accommodation.
He added that there is a trend for travelers to see hotels as a place to sleep so they do not see any need to pay for fancy accommodation.
“People think, ‘As long as it’s reasonable, I’m not looking for a luxury stay, so I just pay the minimal.’ They also think, ‘I’m not going to stay in the hotel room throughout the day, so why should I pay so much for the room?’”
When asked whether home-sharing platform Airbnb had a role to play in the decline, Mr Chiam said that the illegality of Airbnb in Singapore meant that the number of tourists using it in Singapore would be “very small” and would not make an impact on the tourism receipts for accommodation.
Improving market portfolio
Looking ahead, Mr Poh said that the board expects some macroeconomic and external challenges to persist and that Singapore’s tourism performance would continue to be affected, particularly its tourism receipts.
STB would continue to diversify its market portfolio by marketing to tier-two cities in China and India, such as Chongqing and Jaipur.
“We will continue to enhance our wide range of attractions and events, as well as the rich cultural and heritage precincts and festivals that remain a draw for visitors,” Mr Poh said, adding that STB has a pipeline of tourism offerings, such as the further development of Mandai Nature Precinct and the Jurong Lake District.
“We are also committed to enriching visitor experience to encourage them to spend more time in Singapore. STB will continue to work closely with industry stakeholders to encourage day-trippers to extend their stay in Singapore, which will contribute to higher per capita expenditure.” /TISG