Singapore expects tourist numbers to double from last year to reach 12-14 million visitors in 2023, helped by China’s decision to drop Covid travel restrictions, along with an increase in flight connectivity and capacity.
Those tourists could bring in as much as $21 billion, compared with about $14 billion last year, when 6.3 million people visited, Singapore Tourism Board said Tuesday. The city-state received only 330,000 international visitors in 2021, when curbs on global travel were most intense.
“We’re in a very good place to continue to have Chinese arrivals come back strongly,” STB Assistant Chief Executive Juliana Kua said at a briefing.
Singapore exceeded its target for visitors last year, driven by arrivals from Indonesia, India and Malaysia. But with its vast population, China is key to a sustained recovery. There are 38 weekly flights from Singapore to China, which is still less than 10% of pre-Covid levels, Kua said, adding that China’s entry rules remain relatively tight.
Visitors are also spending more time in Singapore than before the pandemic. The average stay for people who came in April-December — after the government stopped requiring quarantine — was 4.81 days, compared with 3.36 days over the same period in 2019, the tourism board said.
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“To sustain our growth in 2023 and beyond, we will expand our partnerships, build up a rich year-round calendar of events, ramp up investment in new and refreshed products and experiences, and continue to support industry efforts to build the capabilities they need to meet consumer demands,” said Keith Tan, STB’s chief executive officer.
Tourism accounted for about 10% of the Asia Pacific region’s gross domestic product in 2019 and 10% of jobs, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
“With recession risks still haunting the United States and Europe, China’s economic reopening cannot come at a better time for the region,” said Hoe Ee Khor, chief economist of the Asean+3 Macroeconomic Research Office, or AMRO. “China’s stronger economy will provide support for regional activity, while the border reopening will boost intra-regional tourism.”