| Azlan Othman |
SOME 68,419 tourists from Brunei Darussalam visited Singapore from January to December last year, a drop of 2.1 per cent compared to the same period in 2016, according to statistics released by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on February 12, 2018.
The school holiday period is the most popular time for travel among Bruneians, as evidenced by the highest number of tourist arrivals from Brunei to Singapore recorded in December with 10,761 visitors, followed by March (7,835) and June (5,758).
The number of individuals from Brunei who travelled to Singapore by air last year was 61,907 (decreased by 1.9 per cent from 2016), while the total who travelled by sea was 1,096 (decreased by 5.3 per cent). The total who travelled by land, meanwhile, was 5,406 (decreased by 4.0 per cent).
The STB stated that on the whole, both tourism receipts and visitor arrivals to Singapore for 2017 have reached record highs for the second year running.
Tourism receipts for 2017 rose by 3.9 per cent to S$26.8 billion on the previous year’s figures, due primarily to growth in visitor arrivals across all top 10 markets and higher visitor arrivals from high-spending markets such as China, South Korea, the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK).
Visitor arrivals increased by 6.2 per cent to 17.4 million, with 13 of the top 15 markets showing growth.
Chief Executive of STB, Lionel Yeo, said of the improvement, “STB is pleased to report a second consecutive year of record tourism performance. The combined efforts of STB and our industry partners have yielded strong results, against the backdrop of better-than-expected global economic recovery, continued growth in Asia-Pacific travel, and increased flight and cruise connectivity to Singapore.
“Together with significant initiatives to support industry innovation and competitiveness, we made excellent progress in 2017 towards our vision of quality tourism growth,” Yeo continued.
From January to September 2017, tourism receipts grew strongly across most of Singapore’s top 10 markets. China (+10 per cent), US (+22 per cent) and UK (+24 per cent) saw the highest year-on-year absolute growth in tourism receipts, excluding the areas of sightseeing, entertainment and gaming (TRexSEG).
China also ended up top in tourism receipts for the third consecutive year. Growth in tourism receipts from China and UK has been attributed to an increase in leisure visitors and higher shopping spending.
For the US, the increase is down to more BTMICE (Business Travel and Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibitions) visitor arrivals and higher shopping spending. Declines in tourism receipts were seen by Indonesia (-7 per cent), India (-1 per cent) and Japan (-9 per cent), largely due to fewer BTMICE visitor arrivals. For the case of India and Japan, this was coupled with lesser spending from BTMICE visitors.
Thirteen out of Singapore’s top 15 markets registered growth in 2017, with seven – India, China, Vietnam, Philippines, US, UK and Germany – also registering record visitor arrivals.
The top three biggest markets for visitor arrivals were China, India and Indonesia. The highest growth rate was seen with India (+16 per cent), which, together with China (+13 per cent), contributed to the bulk of the growth in visitor arrivals. Another standout market for the year was Vietnam (+13 per cent), which emerged as a top 10 market for the first time. Declines in visitor arrivals were posted by Thailand (-3 per cent) and Hong Kong SAR (-13 per cent).
Commenting on the upsurge in arrivals for 2017, in particular from the US, Darren Tan, the managing director of inbound travel agency World Express Group, said, “We saw an over 15 per cent year-on-year growth for US arrivals in 2017, with most of the growth coming during the year-end winter season.
“We see mainly two types of clients – those here on fly-cruise programmes and travellers who came here on tour groups or for individual travel. The growth could be attributed to more in-market promotions driven by both STB and the private sector, and good value in airfares and hotel rates. We are optimistic that 2018 will be a stronger year for the US market.”