China tourists poised to retain top-spender title in Singapore

In January, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) released official figures showing that more than 2.7 million Chinese travelled to Singapore in the first ten months of 2017, accounting for almost one-fifth of all visitor arrivals. Not only that, the Chinese contributed nearly 18 per cent of tourism receipts for H1 2017, setting them in the lead to become Singapore’s top-spending travellers for the third year in a row. The Chinese are also making their impact felt on a global basis, as the World Tourism Organisation revealed that Chinese travellers spent 19 per cent more in 2017 than in 2016, once again placing China as the top spender for the sixth year running.

STB attributed the robust figures to better flight connectivity and sustained efforts to attract visitors from China’s tier one and two cities. The tourism authorities has also formed partnerships with major Chinese tech companies (Baidu, Tencent and Meituan-Dianping) to launch outreach campaigns, such as the livestreaming of Zoukout 2017 on Tencent’s QQ instant messenger platform. The livestreaming, aimed at millennials who make up more than one-third of Chinese travellers, attracted 1.85 million viewers.

However, experts predict that this exponential growth may not last long. The China Tourism Academy forecasted low to moderate expansion of their outbound market in view of slower projected growth in GDP in the coming years. Meanwhile, a Financial Times (FT) survey conducted last year on Chinese travellers also found that overseas shopping expenditure had declined, particularly for luxury items. The FT survey also performed a ranking on destinations: while Singapore was eighth on the list of most recently visited countries, it failed to make the list of dream destinations. For the upcoming Spring Festival holidays, China’s largest online travel agency, Ctrip, reported that Chinese tourists are looking at expensive and further destinations for the upcoming Spring Festival holidays, such as Antarctica, Argentina, Tahiti, Tanzania and Iceland.

Nevertheless, STB remains unperturbed, pointing out that Singapore’s tourism sector is diversified and continues to see healthy growth in visitors from other markets such as Indonesia, India and Myanmar. They further explained that Singapore has a good mix of short and long haul markets among its top 15 source countries.

Sources: The Straits Times

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