Singapore’s visitor arrivals fell 4.1 percent last month, the steepest monthly decline since the SARS outbreak five years ago, as rising hotel charges deter tourists arriving from Indonesia and Malaysia
The city-state recorded 816,000 visitors last month, from 851,000 in last June, the Singapore Tourism Board said in a statement yesterday. Arrivals plunged 8.2 percent in October 2003, when business and leisure travelers shunned the island because of an outbreak of SARS.
Now inflation, a weaker global economic outlook and a stronger local currency are curbing travel plans, putting at risk the government’s target for a 5 percent increase to 10.8 million tourist arrivals for this year.
Singapore hotel room rates increased by 20 percent over the past year, ratcheting up costs for travelers from Indonesia, who comprise more than one in six visitors.
The city, which is scheduled to host its first Formula One Grand Prix on Sept. 28, expects the number of visitors to rise to 17 million by 2015 with new attractions including two casino-resorts, generating S$30 billion (US$22 billion) in tourism receipts.
Singapore’s dollar has strengthened by about 11 percent against the Indonesian rupiah and 5 percent against Malaysia’s ringgit during the past 12 months.
The number of visitors from Indonesia, where inflation reached 11 percent last month, dropped to 153,000 last month, 15 percent fewer than a year earlier, Tourism Board data shows.
Arrivals crossing the border from Malaysia, where inflation accelerated to 7.7 percent last month, dropped 11 percent to 53,000.
Hotel room rates in Singapore averaged S$251 last month, up from S$210 for last June. The increase helped spur a 7.5 percent gain in hotel room revenue to S$177 million over the same period, the Tourism Board said. The average occupancy rate decreased to 82 percent last month, from 87 percent a year earlier.