Singapore to miss tourism target as visitors decline


Singapore expects this year’s visitor arrivals and tourism receipts to fall short of its target after travelers for September fell to a two-year low, the tourism board said in an e-mailed statement today.

Tourist arrivals dropped 4.1 percent to 739,000 in September from a year earlier, the government agency said in the statement. The decline reflects the “challenging global economic environment” and outlook for the tourism industry, which may extend into 2009, it said.

“With the current global economic climate, there is now a general air of uncertainty which has impacted consumer sentiments and discretionary spending,” the government agency said.

Business and leisure travel is cooling as the credit crisis in the U.S. worsens and financial institutions cut jobs. The city-state’s carrier Singapore Airlines Ltd. filled fewer seats in September after it expanded capacity faster than demand, with passenger traffic dropping for the first time in more than three years, the company said earlier this month.

Hotels filled fewer rooms, with occupancy declining 11.6 percentage points to 73 percent during the month. Average rates for rooms rose almost 50 percent to S$306 ($209), as hotels raised prices during the city’s first Formula-One Grand Prix, which was held on Sept. 28.

Indonesia, Australia, China, India and Japan were the top markets, accounting for 52 percent of total arrivals for the month.