25-30% drop in tourists expected for 2020, China accounts for 20% of visitor arrivals: STB CEO

It might even be worse than SARS.

Mandy How | February 11, 2020, 10:34 AM

The novel coronavirus situation (nCoV) will result in a "significant hit" on Singapore's tourism sector for 2020, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) revealed in their 2019 year-in-review on Feb. 11.

This comes after four years of consecutive growth.

Chinese tourists were top spenders in 2018

Based on the current situation, STB expects visitor arrivals to drop by 25-30 per cent.

In a speech at the event, Chief Executive of STB, Keith Tan said that Singapore is losing an average of 18,000 - 20,000 tourists a day.

And this number could possibly get higher.

This is especially so as China accounts for 20 per cent of such arrivals.

In 2017, Chinese tourists were the top in terms of visitor numbers in Singapore.

The number continued to experience a six per cent growth in 2018.

In 2019, Chinese tourists grew by another six per cent to reach 3.627 million.

China is Singapore's top tourists market.

On Jan. 29, however, the Singapore government implemented a ban on Hubei travellers into Singapore, followed by a ban on visitors who have been to mainland China in the past 14 days on Feb. 1.

Visitors from other key markets, such as Indonesia, India, Australia, and the Philippines, are expected to drop as well, as due to lower travel confidence globally.

The estimated drop in tourist arrivals is dependent on three main factors:

  1. How long the situation in China will last and whether it has knock-on economic effects on the region,
  2. how long the situation in Singapore, and other countries in the region, will last,
  3. How long it will take for traveller demand to return.

Biggest challenge since SARS

Tan called this is the tourism sector's "biggest challenge" since SARS in 2003 — perhaps even worse.

He continued, "But unlike SARS, we are now better prepared and more resilient".

To rebound and grow from the setback, STB has set up the Tourism Recovery Action Task Force (TRAC), which will map out recovery and growth strategies.

STB is aiming for a strong recovery with a pipeline of tourism investments and efforts to build new capabilities.