Wednesday 20 June 2012

Singapore among top 5 global travel destinations

MasterCard global ranking tips Republic as hot destination for 2012
By Ng Kai Ling, The Straits Times, 19 Jun 2012

A NEW study has ranked Singapore among the top five most popular travel destinations in the world for this year.

The MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index, released yesterday by MasterCard Worldwide, placed Singapore fourth in visitor arrivals and fifth in tourist spending, in its second ranking of 132 international cities.

In its inaugural list last year, the Republic came in fourth in visitor arrivals and seventh in tourist spending.

The cities are ranked in terms of their international visitor arrivals on direct flights, and how much visitors spent in their destination cities in previous years.

The arrivals figures were obtained by MasterCard from aviation data tracking passenger arrivals at airports, and the spending data was derived from United Nations estimates.

Using both sets of data, a forecast is made for the present year.

This latest report projected visitor arrivals here to reach 11.8 million this year. Tourist spending is expected to hit US$12.7 billion (S$16.2 billion).

These figures, though higher than the previous year's study, are different from Singapore's own projections, which take into account tourists who visit via sea and land.

In March, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said Singapore could expect up to 14.5 million visitors this year, up from last year's 13.2 million.

It also said tourist spending this year may reach $24 billion, up from last year's $22.3 billion.

Despite these differences, tourism analysts who spoke to The Straits Times about the MasterCard report said the two forecasts concurred on one point: That the numbers are going up.

'Singapore has become not only a hub for tourism arrivals, but for tourism spending as well,' said Mr Jonathan Galaviz, managing director of research and consulting firm Galaviz & Company.

'Attracting tourists is one thing, getting them to spend is another.'

Mr Michael Chiam, a senior lecturer in tourism at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said that the two integrated resorts had created new markets in gaming and dining for the tourism sector.

He added: 'And this year, we have new attractions such as Gardens by the Bay and River Safari opening.' Both Gardens by the Bay and River Safari are scheduled to open this year.

According to the MasterCard study, the biggest spenders in Singapore this year will be from London, Jakarta and Hong Kong. Travellers from those cities are expected to spend between US$867 million and US$1.39 billion.

The largest number of travellers to Singapore is expected to come from Jakarta (1.05 million), Hong Kong (690,000), London (616,000) and Manila (616,000).

With the Olympics being held in London next month, the British capital can expect some 16.9 million visitors, putting it on top of the MasterCard study.

Paris is second with 16 million visitors. In third place is Bangkok, with 12.2 million visitors.

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