S’pore’s tourist arrivals fell 85% to 2.7m, lowest in four decades due to Covid-19

SINGAPORE – Visitor arrivals to Singapore plummeted to 2.7 million last year, the lowest in about four decades, following unprecedented global travel restrictions and border closures amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last year’s arrivals nearly all took place during the first two months of the year, and the total number is a drop of 85.7 per cent from arrivals in the whole of 2019, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Monday (Feb 1).

Tourism receipts also tumbled 78.4 per cent to $4.4 billion in the first three quarters of last year, from the same period in 2019.

This was largely due to the unprecedented global travel restrictions and border closures, the STB said.

STB chief executive Keith Tan said: “STB remains confident in Singapore’s position as one of the world’s safest and most attractive leisure and business destinations, and the long-term prospects of Singapore’s tourism sector.”

While mass international travel is unlikely to resume in a major way this year, he said the STB will continue to work with industry partners to prepare for a recovery.

Domestic demand has now become critical to support tourism businesses, with international travel at a standstill.

The SingapoRediscovers Vouchers (SRV) scheme was launched in December last year in bid to support local tourism.

Since last month, more than 300,000 Singaporeans have used the SRV scheme to make bookings with Singapore hotels, attractions and tours, resulting in more than $35.9 million in SRV redemptions and out-of-pocket payments.

The STB added that tourism businesses had also played a key role in Singapore’s battle against Covid-19, with hotels offering their properties for various accommodation purposes, including government quarantine facilities, swab isolation facilities and stay-home notice dedicated facilities (SDFs).

More than 70 hotels served as SDFs at various points in since March last year, and as at December last year, the SDFs had accommodated more than 80,000 people on stay-home notice.

The outlook for international travel is also expected to remain bleak this year.

In a statement on Monday, the STB said: “Even with the development of several vaccines, it will take time for mass leisure travel and traveller confidence to return. Therefore, we expect tourism arrivals and tourism receipts to remain weak in 2021.”

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