Singapore has the potential to be a “top choice” for Chinese outbound travellers, once the country reopens and eases travel restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, suggested Andrew Phua Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) chief representative and executive director for Greater China. He was speaking in a Friday media interview on the sidelines of the 2022 Global Partner Summit, an event hosted by Chinese online travel service provider Trip.com Group Ltd at casino resort the Venetian Macau.
Singapore has been one of the first jurisdictions in Asia to move to a living-with-Covid strategy, bolstered by a high local rate of vaccination. The city-state has, since late August, also started to exempt inbound travellers aged 13 or above – even for those that are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 – from serving a seven-day quarantine upon arrival and a Covid-19 test prior to entry to the community.
To date, China has maintained a so-called “dynamic zero-Covid-19 policy”, which relies on regular tests and quarantine measures as a way to stem periodic outbreaks. Despite the difference in approach regarding the disease, Singapore’s low death rate should help promote the city-state as a “safe” travel destination for Chinese tourists, Mr Phua said.
“When attracting Chinese tourists to travel to Singapore, safety is a consideration,” Mr Phua suggested, noting that providing a “comprehensive” and “transparent” set of travel advisories was also key.
He added: “When China starts to reopen, the first batch of outbound travellers who have not been travelling anywhere for three years would want to look further away, and Singapore could be a top choice.”
Singapore’s tally of visitors for this year is likely to be at the “higher end” of the 4 million to 6 million forecast that the city-state’s authorities had mentioned previously, said in mid-October Alvin Tan Shen Hui, Singapore’s Minister of State for Trade and Industry.
The city-state’s largest tourist source markets are now India and destinations in Southeast Asia, the latter primarily driven by Indonesia and Malaysia, Mr Phua stated.
Although China was not currently amongst the top tourist sources due to the pandemic, the country remained an important source for “quality tourism” to Singapore, given their status as “higher-spending” visitors. Such was evident last year as visitors from China were the highest contributors to Singapore’s tourism receipts, Mr Phua said.
Singapore’s 2021 tourism receipts reached SGD1.89 billion (US$1.40 billion), of which SGD536.9 million came from Chinese visitors, according to official data. Average per capita expenditure of tourists for 2021 was SGD5,737, and that of Chinese tourists reached SGD6,083.
“Moving forward regarding China, we will continue to promote business travel advice for essential travel,” said Mr Phua, noting that Singapore has already seen some mainland Chinese tourists return to take part in events hosted recently in the city-state, despite China’s quarantine measures for people returning from overseas.
“For leisure travel, we’ll be looking at the new trends. One of the new trends that we feel is very applicable to any source market, including China, will be wellness because after the pandemic, people are looking for a destination that is safe, easy to enjoy, sustainable, healthy and trusted,” Mr Phua added.