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Singapore draws Chinese tourists who spend more

Updated: 2014-11-15 08:20
By Xu Lin (China Daily)

The Singapore Tourism Board and China Tourism Academy recently finished the Research of Market Recognition of Chinese Outbound Visitors to Singapore and their Tour Evaluations and unveiled the full report in the fourth annual TravelRave, one of Asia's most influential travel and tourism festivals, at the end of October in Singapore.

China is Singapore's second-largest visitor market, and Chinese visitors became the biggest spenders in the country last year, overtaking the Indonesians for the first time.

The report shows that the Chinese visit Singapore for diverse reasons, such as leisure, meeting and exhibition planning, high-end bespoke tours and medical tours. The majority still goes for leisure.

According to the board, more Chinese tourists are choosing free and independent and in-depth tours in Singapore. They are confident that more Chinese will visit Singapore because they say Chinese visitors want to experience the local lifestyle and know more about the destination rather than have tours around the landmarks and take photographs. Therefore, it's important to meet the demands of the visitors such as improving Singapore's tourist service, developing new scenic spots and offering a rich tour experience.

The research shows that Chinese like to visit Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa island resort, the Singapore River and the Singapore Flyer. They also love scenic spots with cultural heritages such as Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, the Kampong Glam neighborhood, the Katong/Joo Chiat area, Chinatown and Ann Siang Hill.

Many Chinese tourists are fond of bak kut teh (pork ribs soup) and Hainanese chicken rice, and they speak highly of Singapore's tour agencies, the Singapore airport and the residents' hospitality.

Although many Singaporeans speak Chinese, the report shows that Chinese tourists have difficulty getting proper Chinese language services at scenic spots and hotels.

To enhance their tour experience, the board says it has worked with the local tourism industry operators, planning to offer Chinese language guidebooks, audio guides and guiding services. For example, one can now tour around the popular Night Safari on a shuttle bus that provides Chinese-language explanation.

Another finding is that the number of visitors from second-tier cities in China is increasing, especially those for free and independent and in-depth tours.

To draw more of such visitors, the board is planning to promote a diversity of tour products including parents-and-children tours, business trips and cultural heritage exploration tours. It has cooperated with different airlines to offer cost-effective flights with good quality service in the second-tier Chinese cities, to encourage their citizens to visit Singapore.

In the first half of 2014, Singapore's international visitor arrivals dropped by 2.8 percent year-on-year, due mainly to a decline in the number of Chinese visitors who stay for one day or less, according to the board's announcement in late August.

The number of Chinese visitors fell 30 percent from January to June this year, following the implementation of China's new Tourism Law last October.

According to the board, the disappearance of flight MH370 of Malaysia Airlines, the abduction of Chinese visitors in Sabah, and the political unrest in Thailand, have all had a dampening effect on Chinese tourism to the region.

In recent years, Chinese visitors have tended to choose Singapore as a single destination and are staying longer than before, although they used to take Singapore as a transit destination in Southeast Asia and stay one night only.

The number of Chinese visitors that stayed for at least two days hit 406,000, with an increase of 21 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2014. Typical Chinese visitors stayed from two to four days this year.

Yap Chin Siang, assistant chief executive, policy and planning group of the board, says it shows that they have been reaching out to the right target customers and offering them a valuable and pleasant experience.

 Singapore draws Chinese tourists who spend more

From left: The Merlion is a landmark of Singapore; Gardens by the Bay is a park that consists of three waterfront gardens. Provided to China Daily

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