Singapore tourism drops 4.3 per cent, hotels take hit

Tourist arrivals in Singapore fell 4.3 per cent in 2009 to 9.7 million, the city-state’s tourism board said Tuesday. Hotels were hit hard as visitors stayed away due to the economic recession and the H1N1 flu outbreak.

A strong rebound in the last quarter allowed for a “very credible” performance over the whole year, tourism board chief executive Aw Kah Peng said. Visitor arrivals for the month of December reached a record 971,000.

However, tourism receipts over the year were estimated at 12.4 billion Singapore dollars (8.7 billion US dollars), down 19 per cent from a year earlier, the board said.

Hotels were hit hard as the average room rate fell 22.3 per cent to 191 Singapore dollars. Average revenue per hotel room – including rooms that remained vacant – was down 26.6 per cent to 146 Singapore dollars in 2009.

Overall room revenue for Singapore’s hotels in 2009 was 1.51 billion Singapore dollars, a slump of 28.3 per cent from a year earlier.

The tourism board is to present its forecast for 2010 in March, Aw said, adding that “we expect the growth momentum from the last quarter 2009 to continue.”

Hopes are riding on two new multibillion-dollar casino resorts, designed to attract visitors from across the Asia-Pacific region, to restore the fortunes of Singapore’s ailing tourism industry.

Resorts World Sentosa, which includes South-East Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park, has already opened some of its hotels and received the gambling licence for its casino last weekend.

Marina Bay Sands, located in the heart of the financial district, is slated to open in April at the earliest.