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Something clicked many years back when Singapore suddenly realized that the key to being a world city isn’t just about business… it is about having fun too.
Since then the city has been transforming itself with a focus on both ease of doing business plus quality of life for those who do business.
Thus both prostitution and gambling are legal in by-the-book Singapore. And brand new integrated resorts (casinos) are coming online.
Already, tourist arrivals are spiking, so get ready for the economic boom:
The transformation of Singapore into a cosmopolitan, global city has just reached a major milestone with the opening of the first of Singapore’s two casinos on 14 February.
The casino at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) welcomed 130,000 visitors in its first week of operations. Even before the casino threw open its doors, visitor arrivals in Singapore had grown by 17.6% to reach 908,000 in the first month of 2010, the highest number of visitor arrivals recorded for the island city in the month of January, while the average hotel occupancy rate posted a 13.9 percentage point increase year on year (YoY) to 80.4%.
We expect the imminent opening of the Universal Studio theme park, the main attraction at RWS, and the launch of Marina Bay Sands in April, will go a long way in helping to meet the Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) forecast of 11.5– 12.5 million tourist arrivals for 2010 and 17 million by 2015. To hit the 17 million target by 2015, tourist arrivals would have to grow at a CAGR of 7% between 2011 and 2015, an ambitious but not-impossible target, compared to the historical CAGR of 4.7% between 1980 and 2009 (Figure 1).
Moreover, tourists aren’t the only people more likely to come now. Business people will increasingly consider Singapore as a place to work, given the great weather, work opportunities, easy regulations and now the fun weekends of gambling and ribaldry.
Singapore accounted for more than 25% of meetings held on the Asian continent in 2008, and won the title of Top International Meeting City in the Union of International Associations’ (UIA) Global Rankings for two straight years – 2007 and 2008. The STB aims to generate over SGD 10.5 bn from MICE (meetings, incentive tours, conventions and exhibitions) by 2015, up from SGD 5 bn in 2007, contributing some 40% of Singapore’s total tourism receipts.
Property owners must be pretty happy about Singapore’s transformation: