Singapore beckons UAE tourists

November 5, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Sean Davidson
Emirates Business

The number of visitor arrivals into Singapore from the UAE is expected to record zero per cent growth this year but will not slip into the negative. The city-state also hopes to grow total numbers from the Middle East by at least 10 per cent next year, Singapore’s tourism board told Emirates Business.

Total visitor arrivals from the UAE into Singapore stands at 37,000 till date. For 2008, the total figure stood at 51,000. November and December have historically been a peak season and should easily account for the 14,000 difference, said Aw Kah Peng, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

“This year we think the UAE arrivals will be on track for last year’s figures. Over the last five years we have been seeing double-digit growth. Yes, it is a small base but you have to start somewhere. For us most of the visitors from the UAE are either coming from Dubai or Abu Dhabi,” Peng said.

While acknowledging that the Middle East was still a very small base, Kah Peng said the board would work to grow the number by more than 10 per cent in 2010.

“The Middle East is still very small as a base for us. We got just more than 114,000 people coming from the region. Considering the 10 million visitors coming to Singapore that is a small fraction and we must grow it. For 2010, we will look to grow the number to somewhere between 130,000 and 140,000,” she said.

Today, 80 per cent of Singapore’s total arrivals are from the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for seven of its top 10 markets. Emerging economies have added more travellers and Singapore is poised to tap into those markets.

“We know where our market is and how in some ways it has shifted over time. Two to three years ago we found the Middle East a region that we had to focus on so we set up an office here to have a real presence on the ground. We are using this office to create awareness, and to run promotions and marketing campaigns,” said Peng.

Jason Ong, Area Director, Middle East and Africa, STB, said: “We are trying to grow a lot more of our local population arrivals. We are going to develop more programmes and more focused campaigns. We are trying to reach out to them through networking events. It’s a very niche market.

“We are pitching more of a precinct, an area, and a lifestyle segment. A lot of them like the Orchard road area in Singapore, which is like Asia’s Champs-Elysees. So we’re trying to push the area a lot more.”

Singapore reported a 7.1 per cent increase in tourist arrivals for September over last year, boosted by holidays in neighbouring countries and its Formula One Grand Prix.

Hotel revenues fell 28 per cent to S$140 million (Dh367.91m) in September as hotels slashed room rates 31 per cent to attract customers, the board said.

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