Singapore: Driven by strong demands from key markets like India, Indonesia and Malaysia, the Singapore tourism sector recovered strongly in 2022 to exceed the Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) original forecast of 4 to 6 million visitors last year.
Last week, STB revealed that tourist arrivals to Singapore reached 6.3 million in 2022 led by Indonesia with 1.1 million visitors, followed by India at 686,000 visitors while 591,000 residents of Malaysia came to Singapore on visitor passes in 2022. In a statement, it added, “barring unexpected circumstances, tourism activity is now expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.”
When the final numbers are in, tourism receipts (TR) are expected to reach between SGD 13.8 to 14.3 billion (USD 10.5 to 10.8 billion) which is 50 to 52 per cent of the pre-pandemic level achieved in 2019.
TR reached SGD 8.96 billion (USD 6.8 billion) between January to September 2022. The top TR-generating markets were Indonesia, India and Australia, which contributed SGD 1.1 billion, SGD 704 million, and SGD 633 million respectively, excluding sightseeing, entertainment and gaming.
One of the key measurements for the tourism industry is the length of stay. Singapore is a small island that has in the past been challenged to increase the attractiveness of the city as a destination for travellers. In 2019 which was the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic, the average length of stay was 3.36 days.
However, in the latest figures released, visitors appear to be spending more time in Singapore compared with the period before the pandemic.
For the last three quarters of the year (April-December 2022) when Singapore no longer required quarantine for fully-vaccinated travellers, the average length of stay was approximately 4.81 days. Indians stayed an average of 8.08 days, which is almost twice the overall average length of stay.
Indian visitors to Singapore are also generally more youthful. For Indian residents, those aged between 25 to 34 form the largest group of visitors in 2022 with 199,940. Those between 35- and 44 years old form the second largest group with 151,300, while those aged from 45 to 54 are third biggest with 82,340.
Two of the key factors which increased the post-pandemic appeal of the country were the focus on bringing more events to Singapore and new attractions.
Following the easing of border restrictions in the second quarter of 2022, the number of MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events grew exponentially as the city was one of the first in the region to fully reopen.
Marquee international events returned to Singapore, including Food and Hotel Asia – Food & Beverage and Food and Hotel Asia – HoReCa, which took place as two dedicated trade shows for the first time, ITB Asia, and Singapore Fintech Festival, which attracted a record turnout from over 115 countries. STB also secured new events like FIND: Design Fair Asia as well as Global Health Security Conference 2022 and the 14th World Stroke Congress.
Sports and leisure events also recovered strongly. The Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix was held for the first time in three years in 2022 and drew a record crowd of 302,000, half of which were from abroad. Other events include the Tour de France Prudential Singapore Criterium (held for the first in Southeast Asia), the Singapore Food Festival, Christmas Wonderland, Christmas on A Great Street at Orchard Road, the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown and ZoukOut Singapore.
Singapore also ramped up new attractions and experiences during the pandemic to attract more foreign visitors. These include the Children’s Museum Singapore; Avatar: The Experience at Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa’s Night Luge, Scentopia, Wings of Time and Central Beach Bazaar; a new gallery at ArtScience Museum’s Future World: “Exploring New Frontiers”; A Minion’s Perspective Experience at Resorts World Sentosa; Mr Bucket Chocolaterie at Dempsey; and the Singapore Night Safari’s new amphitheatre and refreshed Creatures of the Night show.
STB expects the tourism sector to continue its growth momentum this year, on the back of increasing flight connectivity and capacity, and China’s gradual reopening. International visitor arrivals are expected to reach around 12 to 14 million visitors, bringing in approximately SGD 18 to 21 billion (USD 13.6 to 15.9 billion) in tourism receipts – around two-thirds to three-quarters of the levels in 2019.
New or refreshed attractions are also planned for 2023, such as Bird Paradise @ Mandai Wildlife Reserve, and new experiences in Orchard Road such as the Trifecta integrated sports facility. STB will also support business and leisure events monetary over the next two years.
Keith Tan, Chief Executive, STB, said: “Our 2022 tourism performance underscores Singapore’s appeal as a leading business and leisure destination for post-pandemic travellers. 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.”