It’s official: Highest number of S’pore’s tourists come from China

Thank you for spending your Chinese renminbi here.

By Martino Tan |Jeanette Tan | February 12, 2018

Step aside, Indonesians — Chinese tourists have now overtaken you to occupy the number one spot in terms of absolute number of visitors to Singapore, and by a mile in terms of spending.

We learned this courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), which shared its round-up numbers for tourism in its 2017 year-in-review on Monday morning (Feb 12).

It was a good year for STB, with tourism receipts (S$26.8 billion) and visitor arrivals (17.4 million) achieving record highs for the second time in two years.

And the highest number of tourists arriving in Singapore, for the first time, now belongs to China, with the bulk of the growth coming from China (+13 per cent) and India (+16 per cent).

To put things in context, the top three largest markets for visitor arrivals were China, Indonesia and India.

3 million Chinese

Chinese tourists to Singapore in 2017 crossed the 3 million mark for the first time, at 3.23 million.

In terms of the money tourists spent in Singapore, the Chinese spent more than 1.5 times more than their nearest competitor, the Indonesians.

The Chinese spent the most on shopping, followed by accommodation and food & beverage.

The gap in visitor arrivals between the Chinese and the Indonesians is closer though — Singapore hosted 3.23 million Chinese tourists and 2.95 million Indonesian tourists last year.

Even more Chinese tourists in future

STB provided a more specific breakdown between Chinese tier 1 (e.g. Beijing, Shanghai) and tier 2 (e.g, Kunming, Fuzhou) cities.

Both tiers experienced a growth in visitors at 11 per cent (1.27 million in total) and 22 per cent (979,000 in total) respectively compared with 2016.

To put these numbers in context, the Chinese tier 1 cities have roughly the same number of visitors as the total number of visitors to Singapore from India.

Another number to compare: Chinese tier 2 cities have sent more visitors to Singapore than Japan (793,000 in 2017), which is Singapore’s number 6 market in terms of visitor volume.

With such strong numbers from the Chinese, STB says it will continue to invest in China’s tier 2 cities, including the launch of an online training portal for Chinese trade agents.

STB also started a digital partnership with Tencent to promote Singapore as a destination of choice for Chinese travellers.

Last year, a collaboration with Tencent’s QQ chat app resulted in the live streaming of last year’s Zoukout event for Chinese audiences, reaching 21.86 million Chinese QQ users and 1.85 million accumulated viewers.

Together with Alipay and Global Tax Free, STB also worked to develop an app to streamline the process of tax claims for Chinese tourists.

And there’s plenty more to grow from here.

Some 218,000 to 357,000 tourists from China visited S’pore monthly in 2017

Tourists from China flocking to Antarctica having visited everywhere else on Earth

Top photo via Getty Images

About Martino Tan

Martino’s parents named him after an Italian priest, Vatican's 1st ambassador to S’pore. He's inspired by the lives of Robert Kennedy & D. Bonhoeffer, the words of G.Orwell & T.Sorensen, & the music of the Beatles.

Morning Commute

Interesting stories to discuss with your colleagues in office later