Singapore's Tourism Industry

Being one of the most highly industrialised and developed countries in Asia, the Singaporean economy is stable, solid, and highly diversified. The former British colony has managed to develop an incredibly strong tourist industry that is also environmentally friendly and sustainable in the long term. Despite its small size, this South East Asian country has earned itself a reputation for being one of the most visited destinations in the region, thanks to its rich cultural heritage, its varied cuisine, and the opportunities it offers for shopping and relaxation.

Key facts and figures about the tourist industry in Singapore

According to the Singapore Tourist Board, between January and July 2013 Singapore welcomed more than 9 million visitors. This is a significant amount, considering that the country's population is rather small at 5 million people. The number of visitors who choose Singapore as their holiday spot has been growing for several years. This trend was particularly evident in May 2013, when the country saw a 10 per cent increase in the number of tourists when compared to the previous year. Overall, the number of tourists visiting Singapore have been rising by 5 per cent every year since 2008.

However, and despite the rising number of tourists who visited the country last year, the revenues generated by tourist receipts have gone down. According to a recent set of statistics released by the Singaporean government, during the third quarter of 2012 tourist receipts amounted to S$5.6 billion (approximately £2.8 billion). This figure represents a 7 per cent decrease on the previous year's numbers, which was mostly evident in the diminished revenues generated by sightseeing and entertainment, and in shopping, food, and beverage expenditure. However, tourists receipts for accommodation have continued to increase, rising by 16 per cent over the previous year. Most likely, this is due to the average 4 per cent increase that affected average room rates in Singaporean hotels.

In terms of country of origin, Singapore receives large numbers of tourists from other Asian countries, mainly from Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Japan, and India. It is also worth mentioning the large numbers of North American, Australian, British, Russian, and German tourists who visited the country during the first half of 2013.

There is a number of factors that have contributed to the rapid development of the tourist industry in Singapore. In the first place, the fact that English is an official language in the country facilitates the interaction between locals and visitors. Crime rates are also notoriously low in Singapore, being among the lowest in the world. As of September 2013 crime rates were at a 29-year low. Another important factor is the existence of a modern and efficient transportation system, which in many aspects is on a par with those of Western European nations. The country's modern infrastructure and the great opportunities for discounted shopping are other reasons why tourists choose to spend their holidays in Singapore.

Popular tourist destinations in Singapore

Singapore's shopping and retail outlets are among the best rated in South East Asia. The malls and restaurants in Marina Bay, Orchard Road, and Clarke Quay are always packed with tourists thanks to their varied offer.

Nature and the outdoors are other important attractions in Singapore, as the country is know for having integrated urban and natural landscapes in a harmonious manner.

The tall skyscrapers of the city centre give way to vast expanses of greenery, such as those in the Singapore Zoo, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, or the Botanical Gardens.

Sentosa Island, across from the harbour front, is another popular tourist spot, thanks to its beaches, restaurants, casinos, golf courses, and overall relaxed feel. The vibrant neighbourhoods of Chinatown and Little India complete the tourist offer in Singapore.

Future trends for the tourist industry in Singapore

In order to support the future development of the local tourist industry, the Singapore Tourism Board has devised a commercial strategy that focuses on high-quality tourism. It is expected that the country will continue to invest in top-quality infrastructure and to promote upscale and luxury accommodation.

It remains to be seen how the newest tourist developments in Singapore work in terms of attracting more visitors. The recently inaugurated luxury cruise terminal at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre is expected to increase the number of Asian tourists. The authorities also expect to draw more visitors interested in cultural tourism with the opening of new attractions, such as the National Art Gallery.

The main challenge that the Singaporean tourist industry will have to face is increased competition from neighbouring countries, mainly Malaysia and the Philippines. Market analysts predict moderate growth in the tourist sector in the medium term, as long as Singapore is able to capitalise on its competitiveness and on its high levels of human and socio-economic development.