Friday 29 January 2016

Singapore is second most popular Asia-Pacific destination: MasterCard Asia Pacific Destinations Index 2015

11.81m visited in 2015, Bangkok in top spot: MasterCard report
By Melissa Lin, The Straits Times, 28 Jan 2016

Singapore was the second most popular destination in the Asia-Pacific among international visitors last year, after Bangkok, a new report has found.

Despite the hype surrounding the Republic's Golden Jubilee year, the number of visitors who stayed at least one night here - 11.81 million - dipped 0.4 per cent compared with 11.86 million in 2014.

Experts attribute this to the strong Singapore dollar and an unstable geopolitical environment in the region last year.

The Thai capital attracted 21.90 million visitors last year, while Tokyo was third, with 11.76 million.

The top three sources of visitors to Singapore were Indonesia (16.1 per cent), China (13.9 per cent) and India (7.3 per cent), together accounting for more than a third of total arrivals.

Global payments company MasterCard compiled data from national tourism boards for its inaugural Asia Pacific Destinations Index, which was released yesterday.

The index ranked 167 destinations, drawn from 22 countries in the Asia-Pacific, according to the number of overnight visitors, their length of stay and total spending.

Thailand dominated the list of top 10 most popular destinations, with Bangkok (first place), Phuket (fifth) and Pattaya (eighth).

In terms of total spending, Singapore came in third, after Bangkok and Seoul. Visitors spent US$14.1 billion (S$20.1 billion) here last year, down 7.3 per cent from US$15.2 billion in 2014.

On average, last year's visitors to Singapore spent US$255 per day, and stayed 4.7 nights each.

The tourism industry in the Asia-Pacific is the largest in the world, based on total contribution to gross domestic product, having overtaken Europe in 2014. The robust growth is set to continue, driven by increased consumer wealth, particularly from China, said Mr Matthew Driver, group executive of global products and solutions in the Asia-Pacific at MasterCard.

China's share of tourists to the 167 destinations in the Asia-Pacific grew threefold over the past six years from 5.9 per cent in 2009 to 17.7 per cent last year.

But the corruption clampdown in China may limit Chinese visitors' spending on luxury items here, said Ngee Ann Polytechnic's senior tourism lecturer, Dr Michael Chiam.

The strong Singdollar last year made Singapore more costly for visitors, he said. "The Bangkok bombing also slowed things down for the region, for a while.

"If things remain stable, the recession doesn't get as bad as people expect and there are no external threats, this year, we will at least do as well as last year."


Most popular destinations in the Asia-Pacific:

1. Bangkok
2. Singapore
3. Tokyo
4. Kuala Lumpur
5. Phuket
6. Seoul
7. Hong Kong
8. Pattaya
9. Bali
10. Osaka

Top 10 Asia-Pacific destinations ranked by total expenditure of international visitors:

1. Bangkok
2. Seoul
3. Singapore
4. Tokyo
5. Kuala Lumpur
6. Bali
7. Taipei
8. Phuket
9. Hong Kong
10. Sydney

Changi Airport passenger traffic soars in 2015
It rallies from weak first half to end year with record 55.4m travellers, up 2.5% from 2014
By Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 28 Jan 2016

Changi Airport bounced back from a weak first half to end last year on a new high with a record 55.4 million passengers handled - 2.5 per cent higher than 2014.

The number of aircraft take-offs and landings also grew to 346,330 - 1.4 per cent higher than 2014, said Changi Airport Group (CAG) yesterday.

CAG chief executive Lee Seow Hiang said: "2015 was a year of two halves for Changi Airport. Following 2014, which saw a number of airline incidents in the region and depressed yields for many regional carriers, we had a relatively weak first six months with flat growth for the period."

But efforts to woo new airlines and seek growth opportunities with existing ones eventually paid off, he said. Last year, Changi welcomed eight new carriers, including Batik Air, Thai Lion Air and Myanmar National Airlines. Ten new destinations, including Lucknow in India and Luang Prabang in Laos, were added to the airport's network. Despite the rebound in fortunes, Mr Lee stressed that challenges remain.

"Economic uncertainty in many markets, made worse by lacklustre business and consumer confidence, may dampen travel demand in the near term," he said.

On a more positive note, low fuel prices - the lowest in more than a decade - should encourage airlines to continue to grow their business, while the addition of new city links and airlines should also bode well for Changi.

New city links include Singapore Airlines' new Singapore-Canberra-Wellington route and flights to Dusseldorf, Germany this year.

Also, Fiji Airways' new direct service from Nadi to Singapore will commence in April.

Thank you for being part of another exciting year at Changi Airport! Here are some numbers & achievements we'd like to share with you! #Changi2015
Posted by Changi Airport on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Asia also continues to present exciting growth opportunities.

Mr Lee said: "Changi Airport is well placed to capture future growth with our expanding network, including many secondary cities, to key markets like China, India and Indonesia. We will continue to work closely with our airline partners to establish new connections to develop the Singapore air hub and better serve our passengers."

Competition, however, will be fierce from rival airports with similar aspirations, according to some analysts. Hong Kong has reported an 8.1 per cent rise in international passenger traffic which hit 68.49 million last year, while South Korea's Incheon airport grew by 8.5 per cent to 48.7 million passengers.

Mr Brendan Sobie from the Centre for Aviation said: "Changi has performed well in the South-east Asian context.

"Market conditions, though, remain challenging and while we have seen growth resume over the last six months, we will not see a return of the double-digit growth seen from 2010 to 2012."


Changi Airport's top destination links by passenger traffic

• Jakarta
• Bangkok
• Kuala Lumpur
• Hong Kong
• Manila
• Tokyo
• Bali
• Ho Chi Minh City
• Taipei
• Sydney

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