Stellar Performance In 2010 Arrivals to Singapore soared during 2010. Final full-year data from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) released during Q111 revealed that a total of 11,638,663 tourists visited the Lion state, an increase of 20.2% year on year (y-o-y). There was particularly strong growth in arrivals from the sizeable potential markets of Indonesia (up 32.1% y-o-y), China (up 25%) and Malaysia (up 35.7%). Tourist revenues for the year stood at SGD18.9bn (US$13.9bn), up an incredible 50% y-o-y.
This strong performance reflected improving global economic environment, as well as the positive impact of Singapore’s new integrated resorts at Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. The STB also identified improved tourist sentiment and tactical promotions by airlines and hotels as other key growth drivers over the course of the past 12 months. Further bolstering arrival numbers across 2010 were Singapore’s hosting of the first Youth Olympic Games in August and the Singapore Grand Prix, held on the final weekend of September.
Looking forward, we believe that Singapore’s tourism success story should continue into 2011, as more people choose to visit the new integrated resorts, particularly from neighbouring Asian countries. Q111 arrival figures were notably robust, up 15.7% y-o-y at 3.12mn visitors. For now, we maintain our target of growth in tourist arrivals in the order of 12% for 2011, which may seem slightly cautious but reflects our view that risks to global economic recovery remain. Austerity measures in Europe and the US may impact on arrivals to Singapore from these two key source tourism markets. Lastly, the devastating Japanese tsunami of March 2011 could well depress growth in this country and reduce outward tourism demand from Japanese citizens. Already, Singapore Airlines (SIA) reduced capacity between Singapore and Tokyo, cutting one of its daily flights between Changi and Haneda airports from the end of March 2011.
The airline has also announced the indefinite postponement of introducing the new Airbus A380 aircraft on the Singapore-Tokyo-Los Angeles route, which was also due to start at the end of March. However, should arrivals data remain robust during the first two quarters of 2011, then we would expect to make some upwards revisions to our current 12% growth in arrivals forecast as the year unfolds.
Singapore Airlines To Launch Budget Offshoot
At the end of May 2011, SIA announced that it has plans to start a low-cost long-haul carrier during 2012.
No further details on the airline (such as its name, planned routes and ticket prices) had been released as of late June; however, this development could do much to shake up the low-cost segment of Asian air travel, currently dominated by operators such as Tiger Airways and AirAsia. Although the new low-cost airline will be wholly owned by SIA, it will reportedly have an independent management structure. BMI believes that the new airline should prove a success, leveraging SIA’s strong track record in customer care, but at the same time offering competitively priced long-haul flights.
Also in May, SIA announced robust profits for FY10/11 at SGD1,093mn, up by some SGD876mn on the SGD216mn profit reported for FY09/10. Revenues also increased by 14%, to SGD14,525mn. This was a strong performance, especially when set against the many difficulties facing the aviation industry over the past 12 months.
Looking forward, the airline believes that 2011/12 will continue to be challenging for the airline industry, with continued worries over the sustainability of Greece’s debt burden, as well as the impact of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami on travel to and from Japan. Lastly, high oil prices continue to impact on profitability. Faced with this range of challenges, the airline has said that it will be ‘vigilant in cost control’ and will adjust capacity as necessary to meet demand patterns.
Government Upbeat On Tourism Outlook
In March 2011, Senior Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Education, S Iswaran, made a speech at Singapore’s Tourism Industry Conference 2011 setting out general tourism aims for the coming year. While acknowledging the strong performance of the sector during 2010, when over 11.6mn tourists visited the Lion state, the minister also spoke of the need for Singapore to address the challenges posed by other Asian nations, which are investing heavily in areas such as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) travel, theme parks and cruise terminals.
To that end, Mr Iswaran identified three areas where Singapore can continue to excel: innovation, integration and productivity. Innovation involves taking steps to attract greater numbers of high net worth individuals to the city state, with Iswaran citing personalised concierge services and luxury cabins in the Jewel Cable Car ride as examples. Integration involves the better cross-promotion of tourism services, with Mr Iswaran giving the example of business travellers meeting at the Suntec centre by day and then visiting the restaurants and other leisure options offered at Resorts World Sentosa by night. The ‘See Singapore Attractions Pass’, which offers unlimited visits to 20 attractions around the city is another example of innovation cited by the minister. Lastly, Iswaran stated that the country must continue to increase productivity within the hospitality sector, by increasing training and skills within the local workforce.
BMI applauds this continued focus on improving Singapore’s tourism offering, which is already one of the strongest in the region. Underlining Singapore’s attractiveness as a tourism destination, the city state recently came top in the Asia Pacific region in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report for 2011. It was also ranked 10th worldwide. Singapore scored particularly well against criteria for transport infrastructure and quality of human resources.