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By: NISHA RAMCHANDANI
Publication: The Business Times 11/02/2011
Visitor arrivals surge 20% in 2010, boosting tourism receipts by 50% to $18.8b
[SINGAPORE] Singapore's tourism industry posted sizzling growth last year in what was a landmark year, beating initial projections to rake in $18.8 billion in tourism receipts, up nearly 50 per cent year-on-year.
Visitor arrivals grew 20 per cent to 11.6 million – of which 81 per cent hailed from Asia and Australia – helping to fuel growth of the hotel and meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) sectors.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) had previously forecasted tourism receipts to come in between $17.5-$18.5 billion and visitor arrivals in the region of 11.5-12.5 million.
The launch of the two integrated resorts (IRs) as well as the positive economic sentiment enabled the surge in tourism receipts, STB said. For instance, sightseeing and entertainment, which includes spend at the IRs, grew by 1,834 per cent compared to 2009. The category constituted 21 per cent of total tourism receipts last year.
The hotel industry also booked a good year, with gazetted hotel room revenue climbing 21.8 per cent to $1.9 billion. Average occupancy rose nearly 10 percentage points to 86 per cent while average room rate was 12.2 per cent higher year-on-year at $212 and revenue per available room increased by 26.6 per cent to $182.
However, the cruise sector bucked the trend with ship calls and passenger throughput declining after two gaming ships, the Asia Star and Royale Star, ceased operations last year. Previous reports in the media have highlighted that the two IRs have taken a toll on cruise ship gambling.
About 1.01 million cruise passengers came to Singapore in 2010, down from 1.13 million in 2009, while ship calls tumbled from 928 in 2009 to 642 in 2010.
"2010 was, in many ways, an exceptional year. The growth we saw was very broad-based...across the tourism sector. We believe that the (growth) momentum is still there," said STB chief Aw Kah Peng at a press conference yesterday, adding however that the blistering pace of growth is likely to moderate this year.
Singapore's MICE industry also delivered a strong performance thanks to the flourishing economy. Event attendance grew 15-20 per cent in 2010, the STB said without revealing actual figures for total attendance. In contrast, 2009 saw a 10 per cent drop in attendance.
Additional MICE facilities in the form of Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa have also helped attract some new MICE events.
According to STB figures, there were 108 new and inaugural MICE events held here in 2010, up from 80 in 2009 and 86 in 2008.
The volume of MICE events were also up, industry players said.
With a total of 1,536 events in 2010 – of which about two thirds were corporate meetings – Suntec Singapore held 9 per cent more events compared to 2009.
Local MICE venues are also looking to boost revenue streams with the introduction of new products and services.
New business unit Suntec International, which offers services to the international MICE community, is presently in final talks with two venues for consultancy contracts. It has already announced contract wins with Vancouver Convention Centre and Adelaide Convention Centre in the nine months since its debut in May last year.
"Asia's MICE industry is on the cusp of a regional transformation," said Chu Pui Wia, its director of sales and marketing.
Meanwhile, Singapore Expo, which held about 600 events in 2010, announced this week that it was adding some 8,000 square metres of space to its existing venue as well as expanding its suite of services to include project management and market representation.