Singapore tourism shrank in December for a seventh month, adding to the city-state’s economic woes, as more visitors stayed home amid a global slowdown.
Tourist arrivals to Singapore fell to 880,000 in December, down 6.9% from the same month a year earlier, the Singapore Tourism Board said Tuesday. Hotels revenue dropped 7.4% to 141 million Singapore dollars (US$93 million), the board said.
Singapore is reeling from a collapse in export demand that the government expects will contribute to the economy contracting as much as 5% this year. Gross domestic product shrank 12.5% in the fourth quarter from the previous quarter as manufacturing, finance and tourism all suffered from the worst global downturn in decades.
“Tourism is just one more drag on the economy,” said David Cohen, director of Asian economic forecasting at consultancy Action Economics in Singapore. “Singapore’s economy is reasonably diversified, it’s just that a whole slew of their industries are being hit now.”
Arrivals fell 1.6% in 2008, and while tourist revenue rose to a record SG$14.8 billion (US$9.8 billion) last year, it fell short of the government’s goal of SG$15.5 billion.
The government has tried to ease the country’s dependence on manufacturing, but non-oil exports still account for about two-thirds of GDP while tourism is just 6%.
Singapore has long been the first point of entry for many travellers into Southeast Asia, and many companies, lured by the country’s first-rate infrastructure, set up regional headquarters in the city-state.
But Singapore is also seeking to boost its attractiveness as a tourist destination in its own right, building two casino resorts, the first due to open later this year, and a Universal Studios amusement park in 2011. The island also hosted its first F1 race, at night, last year.
About 17% of visitors to Singapore last year came from Indonesia, followed by China, Australia, India and Malaysia.