S'pore hotels half-filled during Covid-19 season but rooms not getting much cheaper

Fewer guests make for more pleasant stays.

Belmont Lay| February 19, 03:57 AM

Singapore's hotel occupancy rate has fallen from nearly 100 per cent just before Chinese New Year this year on Jan. 25 to below the 50 per cent mark by Feb. 9 week.

Talk about how fast things go south.

And it will continue to get worse.

Timeline of falling occupancy rate

Hotels in Sentosa already have below 30 per cent occupancy rates following the coronavirus outbreak, it was reported.

On Jan. 23, Singapore reported its first coronavirus case.

A 66-year-old tourist from Wuhan had stayed at Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa hotel.

Another Wuhan tourist confirmed to have the virus had stayed at Village Hotel Sentosa.

Occupancy levels in Orchard fell to 47 per cent on Feb. 9, two days after Singapore raised the Dorscon level to orange on Feb. 7.

By the Feb. 9 week, Singapore reported 49 per cent occupancy as travellers from China could no longer enter Singapore.

Singapore is losing an average of 18,000 to 20,000 international visitors per day, the Singapore Tourism Board estimated.

The Chinese travellers account for a fifth of all visitors to Singapore.

Indonesia and India accounted for the second and third-most number of visitors to Singapore, with about 3.1 million and 1.4 million visitors respectively in 2019.

The average hotel occupancy in Singapore in 2019 was 85.2 per cent.

Data about Singapore's hotel occupancy rates are derived from global data and benchmarking firm STR.

Pricing about the same

But falling demand does not mean hotel room rates are getting much cheaper despite the evident slump.

Five-star and business hotels do not have the practice of lowering rates just to fill rooms so as to maintain a modicum of luxury and upmarket status.

However, some hotels that do the volumes game have seen slightly lower prices by about 10 to 15 per cent -- drops in pricing that might be sufficient to entice some domestic demand, perhaps in the form of staycation hunters.

Background

Singapore's tourism industry was red hot in 2019.

Singapore’s hotel occupancy rate was at its highest at 93.8 per cent in July 2019, since records began in 2005.

Travellers and corporate events were switching over to Singapore from unrest-plague Hong Kong last year.