Singapore tourism expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2024

International visitor arrivals reached 6.3 million in 2022, exceeding Singapore Tourism Board's forecast

Tourists visit Singapore's Merlion statue at the Merlion Park.
Tourists visit Singapore's Merlion statue at the Merlion Park. (PHOTO: Then Chih Wey/Xinhua via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Tourism activity in Singapore is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, barring unexpected circumstances.

This comes after the Singapore Tourism Board unveiled on Tuesday (17 January) that the city-state's international visitor arrivals reached 6.3 million last year, exceeding its forecast of between 4 and 6 million visitors.

The figure is about one-third of the arrival figures for 2019 - the year before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Meanwhile, tourism receipts are estimated to reach $13.8 billion to $14.3 billion for 2022, about 50 to 52 per cent of 2019 receipts.

“Our 2022 tourism performance underscores Singapore’s appeal as a leading business and leisure destination for post-pandemic travellers," STB chief executive Keith Tan said in its media release.

"To sustain our growth in 2023 and beyond, we will expand our partnerships, build up a rich year-round calendar of events, ramp up investment in new and refreshed products and experiences, and continue to support industry efforts to build the capabilities they need to meet consumer demands.”

Strong demand from key source markets

Visitor arrivals were driven by strong demand from Singapore’s key source markets, led by Indonesia (1.1 million visitors), India (686,000) and Malaysia (591,000). The top tourism receipt-generating markets were Indonesia ($1.1 billion), India ($704 million) and Australia ($633 million).

Visitors are also spending more time in Singapore compared to before the pandemic. For the last three quarters of 2022 (April to December) when Singapore no longer required quarantine for fully-vaccinated travellers, the average length of stay was approximately 4.81 days - a significant increase compared to 3.36 days for the same period in 2019.

The resumption of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) events picked up pace, with marquee international events such as Food and Hotel Asia, ITB Asia and Singapore Fintech Festival.

The calendar of leisure and sporting events also recovered strongly. The Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix was held after a two-year hiatus, drawing a record attendance of 302,000; the Tour de France Prudential Singapore Criterium also made its Southeast Asian debut.

Regular crowd-pleasers such as the Singapore Food Festival, Christmas Wonderland, Christmas on A Great Street at Orchard Road, the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown and ZoukOut Singapore were all organised successfully and drew visitors from around the world.

Visitors at a preview of the exhibition
Visitors at a preview of the exhibition "Avatar: The Experience" at the Cloud Forest in Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. (PHOTO: Then Chih Wey/Xinhua via Getty Images)

New experiences at old attractions

Singapore’s hotel industry also posted an encouraging year due to stronger demand for leisure and business travel. From April to December, the average occupancy rate was 79.1 per cent, compared to 87.3 per cent recorded in the same period in 2019.

The city-state's position as a regional cruise hub strengthened in 2022 with more than 230 ship calls. The return of cruising was supported by the year-round deployment of Resorts World Cruises’ Genting Dream and Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum/Spectrum of the Seas.

New and enhanced experiences were introduced at the tourist attractions, while park connectors and nature parks were opened to enhance Singapore attractiveness.

STB also organised the inaugural Wellness Festival Singapore in June last year, to meet the increasing demand for holistic wellness offerings. It also launched an Expression-of-Interest (EOI) in November to develop a wellness attraction on the southern coast of Singapore.

Momentum to continue in 2023

STB expects the tourism sector to continue its growth momentum this year, on the back of increasing flight connectivity and capacity, and China’s gradual reopening.

International visitor arrivals are expected to reach around 12 to 14 million visitors, bringing in approximately $18 to 21 billion in tourism receipts – around two-thirds to three-quarters of the levels in 2019.

Meanwhile, STB will continue efforts to increase Singapore’s destination attractiveness. It will support the development of new and refreshed offerings, such as Bird Paradise@Mandai Wildlife Reserve, and new experiences in Orchard Road such as the Trifecta integrated sports facility.

To support tourism recovery, STB will front load $110 million of the $500 million set aside for Singapore’s tourism recovery to ramp up business and leisure events over the coming two years.

It will continue to attract more high-quality MICE and leisure events, with 2023 already kicking off strongly with Art SG, Southeast Asia’s largest ever art fair as part of the Singapore Art Week, and the Singapore Sail Grand Prix, which made its Asian debut last week.

STB will continue to help the tourism sector ramp up hiring to support the pace of recovery via the Tourism Careers Hub, which has placed more than 500 workers in the sector since its launch in 2022.

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