Over a span of 9 years to 2012, Singapore saw visitor arrivals shot up 135% (more than double) from 6.1 million in 2003 to 14.4 million last year. For this year, number of visitor arrivals was 9 million for the first seven months, well on the way to another record number by the end of 2013.
|Visitor Arrivals||Change (%)|
|2013 (Jan to July)||9,039,000||NA|
Source: Singapore Tourism Board (STB)
I cannot help to have the feeling that chasing for percentage increase in yearly Visitor Arrivals is an important Key Performance Indicator (KPI).
What this means to Singapore? For one, the MRT trains were crowded almost every hour of a day and strained under the weight of more people using them. The Orchard tourism belt area was packed with people.
The spike in visitor arrivals coincided with the opening of two casinos/integrated resorts in 2010. Singapore Formula One night race started in 2008 and drew in more tourists since then.
I sometimes wonder whether policymakers consider the impact on our public resources and infrastructure when going for visitor arrivals growth rates. Is there a limit such that Singaporeans do not feel crowded out? Singapore is a small country with finite resources and this is an important parameter in policy making.
2003, 2008 and 2009 saw a decline due mainly to Sars (2003) and global financial crisis (2008,2009).
Visitor arrivals information refers to all visitors who go through immigration clearance regardless of their length of stay. It excludes:
- All Malaysian citizens arriving by land;
- Returning Singapore citizens residing abroad;
- Non-resident air and sea crew (except for sea crew flying in to join a ship); and
- Air transit and transfer passengers.