21 October 2016
Room rates at the Marina Bay Sands fell to their lowest level since the end of 2012. Photo:
Room rates at the Marina Bay Sands fell to their lowest level since the end of 2012. Photo:

Why tourists are avoiding Singapore

Despite being ranked Lonely Planet’s top destination for 2015, Singapore is having trouble attracting more tourists this year.

Marina Bay Sands, the casino resort that’s the city’s biggest hotel, posted its lowest average room rate since the end of 2012 as gaming revenue slumped, raising concerns the outlook for tourist arrivals may worsen, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

The island state recorded year-on-year declines in visitors in 14 of the 15 months up to May, and hotel room rates dropped for 10 straight months.

The Singapore dollar has gained against the currencies of some of its biggest tourism markets, including Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, making the city a more expensive destination.

“Overall tourist traffic hasn’t been good,” the report quoted Samuel Yin, an analyst at Maybank Kim Eng Securities in Kuala Lumpur, as saying.

“Singapore’s stronger currency probably turned off some tourists.”

Marina Bay Sands, owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp. and known for its boat-shaped rooftop, said its average room rates sank to US$377 per night in the June quarter from US$409 in the same period a year earlier.

The decline in tourists also comes as Singapore’s economy contracted 4.6 percent in the second quarter, more than analysts predicted.

Some economists are counting on events such as the Formula One night race in September and an islandwide retail sale to increase tourist figures and fill rooms.

“I don’t think the pressure will continue,” Leong Wai Ho, a senior regional economist at Barclays plc, was quoted as saying.

“We’ve got generally a number of travel magnets in the second half, which should support room rates.”

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