330,000 visitors, led by Chinese tourists, to Singapore in 2021: STB

·Editorial Team
·4 min read
Singapore countdown 2012 at marina bay with laser lights.
Singapore countdown 2012 at marina bay with laser lights.

SINGAPORE — Singapore saw just 330,000 international visitor arrivals (IVA) and an estimated $1.9 billion in tourism receipts (TR) last year, a fraction of its tourism performance pre-pandemic, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Tuesday (25 January).

Between January and December 2021, China (88,000), India (54,000) and Indonesia (33,000) were the top three visitor source markets in 2021.

Between January and September, TR reached $1.2 billion. Visitors from China, Indonesia and India contributed $432 million, $127 million and $58 million in TR (excluding sightseeing, entertainment and gaming) respectively. Full year tourism receipts for 2021 will be available from the second quarter of this year.

Nevertheless, there were "encouraging signs" of recovery in the tourism sector, with year-on-year growth in the last three quarters of 2021, STB said in a statement. This was spurred by various travel arrangements, such as Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs).

Domestic consumption has also been strong, as the tourism sector pivoted to develop new and innovative experiences for locals. However, STB chief executive Keith Tan warned of "setbacks and challenges" even as the tourism industry slowly recovers.

2021 tourism performance

The city-state’s tourism sector recorded overall year-on-year declines in IVA and TR, largely due to the effect of strong tourism performance in the first two months of 2020. IVA increased 221 per cent in the last three quarters of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020.

TR for the second and third quarter of 2021 was 92 per cent higher than the same period in 2020.

During this period, the tourism sector adapted to focus on domestic tourism, supported by STB initiatives such as the SingapoRediscovers campaign and the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers (SRV) scheme, as well as a range of new partnerships.

Hotel industry performance

Last year, Singapore’s hotel industry registered an Average Occupancy Rate (AOR) of 56.2 per cent. This was a slight decrease of 1.1 percentage point compared to the previous year, when AOR was reinforced by strong tourism performance in the first two months of 2020.

The average room rate increased slightly by 2.7 per cent to $158, while revenue per available room held steady at $89.

Several new hotels with unique lifestyle concepts, such as The Clan, Duxton Reserve and Oasia Resort Sentosa, opened in 2021. To appeal to the domestic market, other hotels introduced unique staycation and guest experiences.

For example, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore launched the world’s only augmented reality (AR) hotel art tour for visitors to interact virtually with art pieces by globally-renowned artists such as Dale Chihuly and Frank Stella.

MICE and leisure events

The resumption of MICE events picked up pace last year, following the introduction of the Safe Business Events Framework in 2020. Singapore hosted more than 200 MICE events, with almost 50,000 local and international attendees. These included pilot events to testbed new protocols, such as the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific 2021, Milken Institute Asia Summit and the 50th St Gallen Symposium.

STB said that it will continue to expand the pipeline of significant MICE events for 2022 and beyond, including some multi-year events.

Leisure and lifestyle events that STB supported in 2021 included the Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom exhibition at Gardens by the Bay and the international premiere of Pop- Up Disney! A Mickey Celebration. STB also supported the Mobile Legends Bang Bang M3 World Championship in December 2021, and the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa – the first international professional golf tournament in Asia, and first to have corporate hospitality suites in Singapore since the start of the pandemic.

STB will expand the range and scale of such lifestyle and leisure events in 2022, to meet local demand and ensure that Singapore remains attractive to international visitors such as the upcoming series of ONE Championship events.

Cruise industry performance

The cruise industry rebounded strongly following the start of “cruises-to-nowhere” in late 2020. Since then, more than 400,000 domestic passengers made almost 300 cruise sailings.

With the implementation of STB’s CruiseSafe certification programme and strong support from both Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean International, there have been no COVID-19 clusters on board to date.

STB said it will continue to ramp up efforts in key source markets and deepen engagements with tourism partners to capture growth and inspire travel to Singapore.

For example, STB will work with Singapore Airlines and the Changi Airport Group on the “Welcome Back to Singapore” campaign to instil travel confidence among international travellers. The campaign was launched in Germany and India after VTLs were established with these two markets. It will be progressively launched in more markets including Australia, the UK, the US, and South Korea.

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