Singapore's tourism recovery is full steam underway, with international visitor arrivals (IVA) in 2022 surpassing initial forecasts by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
In 2022, 6.3 million international travellers, representing 33% of 2019 IVA, flocked to Singapore’s shores when STB had earlier projected 4 to 6 million. Tourism receipts were projected to reach S$13.8 billion (US$10.5 billion) to S$14.3 billion, 50% to 52% of 2019 tourism receipts.
From these numbers, STB forecasts that its tourism industry will make a full recovery by 2024.
“Our 2022 tourism performance underscores Singapore’s appeal as a leading business and leisure destination for post-pandemic travellers,” said STB chief executive Keith Tan.
“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."
Who's coming and spending?
Indonesia topped Singapore’s key markets in 2022, bringing in 1.1 million visitors who generated S$1.1 billion in tourism receipts. This is followed by India with 686,000 visitors contributing S$704 million, and Malaysia with 591,000 arrivals that brought in S$411 million in tourism receipts.
Despite being the source market contributing the third most visitor arrivals to Singapore, the tourism receipts generated from Malaysia’s travellers were fifth on the list, most likely due to the weakened Malaysian ringgit.
Australia, on the other hand, ranked third in terms of highest tourism receipts generated at S$633 million although it was fourth on the list for visitor arrival numbers at 566,000.
STB also revealed that travellers are staying longer in Singapore than pre-pandemic times. From April onwards – when Singapore ditched all testing and quarantine measures – through December 2022, the length of stay was roughly 4.81 days, compared to 3.36 days for the same period in 2019.
Twice the travellers forecasted
Fuelled by the swifter than expected recovery trajectory, even before the return of the China market, STB expects to receive around 12 to 14 million visitors in 2023, with tourism receipts anticipated to bring in approximately S$18 billion to S$28 billion.
Furthermore, tourism recovery is set to be further buoyed by a S$110 million injection, taken out from the S$500 million funding set aside by the Singapore government to ramp up business and leisure events over 2023 and 2024.
“High-quality leisure events like ART SG and Sail GP don’t come cheap. They will require some degree of financial support from the government,” Tan explained. “Often there’s also regulatory hurdles we have to overcome – all this requires resources from STB and the key thing is not just to attract a one-off event, but rather to attract and anchor them.
“These are meant to drive tourists to Singapore, attract new types of visitors, or at least project a strong image of Singapore overseas.”
MICE is looking nice
For the MICE industry, STB will also be looking to tap on its well-established position as a leading MICE hub in the region to further boost arrival numbers. At this juncture, 2023 has already kicked off to a good start for the Singapore MICE industry, with an impressive pipeline of events scheduled for this year.
“Our fundamentals as a very strong global Asian node for MICE remains,” said Yap Chin Siang, deputy chief executive of STB. “Our regulatory certainties, world class infrastructure, airport, public transportation, hotels and our air connectivity put Singapore in a very strong position to attract MICE travellers.”
In fact, according to Yap, it was during the pandemic period where Singapore managed to enhance its credibility and reputation “as the must-go-to hub for MICE events” from all the joint efforts between STB and industry stakeholders to keep the lights on and innovate products despite border closures.
Following the reopening of borders, Yap shared that “many of our industry partners – from MICE venues to hotels – report that their businesses are chock-a-block from April onwards.”
Some of the MICE events lined up for 2023 include:
• Aviation Festival Asia (28 Feb – 1 Mar)
• Inter airport Southeast Asia (IASEA) (1 – 3 Mar)
• China’s Machinery and Electronics Show in Singapore (CMESS) (22 – 24 Mar)
• BuildTech Asia (28 – 30 Mar)
• Sea Asia (25 – 27 Apr)
• Food & Hotel Asia (FHA) Food & Beverage (F&B) (25 – 28 Apr)
• TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference (TFWA APE&C) (7 – 11 May)
• Vinexpo Asia (23 – 25 May)
• Asia Tech x Singapore 2023 (6 – 9 Jun)
• IAAPA Expo Asia (13 – 16 Jun)