SINGAPORE (eTN) – It did not take too long for Singapore to reap the financial benefits of its new casino complexes. In fact, it did not even take a year to generate a new boom in tourism activities in the city state. The first integrated resort opened on Sentosa Island in February 2010 followed by the end of June with the new Marina Bay luxury integrated resort. Singapore Tourism Board (STB) recently released its latest figures for the whole year 2010: 11.6 million visitors rushed to the city state in 2010, a historical record to date. The previous record was set in 2007 when Singapore welcomed 10.3 million foreign travelers. Compared to 2009, the growth looks impressive, up by 20.2%.
Arrivals reflect how far casinos and Universal Studios’ theme park impacted inbound travels into Singapore. While growth stood in a range of 5% to 8% for the city’s more mature markets such as Europe, Australia, the USA, or Japan, tourist numbers from Asia skyrocketed last year. Tourist arrivals from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and South Korea progressed by over 30% while China, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam were up by over 20%. Indian arrivals increased by 14.2% while Middle East visitors were up by 25%. Talking to Resorts World Sentosa last year, Marketing Manager Robin Goh indicated that their core business would definitely be Asians living two to four hours away by air from Singapore. Sentosa expects to see between 12 and 13 million visitors in its full operational year.
Even more stunning is the growth in tourist revenues. Last year, it soared by 49% to reach a record of US$14.8 billion (S$18.8 billion). According to STB Chief Executive Aw Kah Peng, Singapore is well on target to achieve S$30 billion in revenue and 17 million visitors by 2015. Tourism certainly contributed to Singapore’s GDP growth in 2010. At 14.7% last year, it was one of the most spectacular rates recorded by the country in the last 15 years.
The rise in Asian travelers reflects the impact of casinos and integrated resorts on a population – especially Chinese – which always enjoyed money games. Since opening, casinos have been filled up with Chinese from the Mainland, from Hong Kong, and also a lot from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
A PricewaterhousCoopers recent study predicted that Singapore will soon become Asia Pacific’s second largest destination for the casino market behind Macau. It would then overtake Korea and Australia. The report indicates that Singapore might get US$5.5 billion in revenues from gambling this year after US$2.8 billion in 2010. Gambling could then possibly generate US$8.3 billion by 2014. Figures released by the two companies’ operating casinos indicate that Marina Bay Sands received US$1.02 billion since June, while it is estimated that 60% from World Sentosa total revenues of US$1.52 billion was received.
Marina Bay Sands remains bullish about its future in Singapore. Talking at the official opening of Marina IR, Sheldon Adelson, Sands Chairman and Chief Executive revealed that he was already looking for additional space, but to expand MICE facilities. The Sands chairman expects a return on investments in about four years.