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January 11, 2009

Singapore Tourism:
Arrivals down 2% to 10m in 2008

Singapore fell short of its targets for tourist arrivals and revenues in 2008 as travel slowed in the second half due to the global economic downturn, AFP quoted the tourism board as saying Saturday.

The city-state welcomed an estimated 10.1 million visitors last year, down 2.0 percent from 2007, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said. It had aimed to attract 10.8 million visitors during the year.

Tourism revenues reached a record 14.8 billion Singapore dollars (10 billion US), up 5.0 percent from 2007 but was also below the official target of 15.5 billion dollars in receipts.

Tourism is a key money-earner for Singapore, where the other main economic engine is high-value exports. "Singapore's tourism sector turned in a credible and robust performance in 2008 despite the dramatic turn in the global economy in the second half of the year," STB chief executive Aw Kah Peng said in a statement.

"With the unwavering support of our industry partners, we were able to achieve record tourism receipts and will continue with our long term strategy to increase visitor spending."

Visitors from Indonesia, China, Australia, India and Malaysia accounted for about 50 percent of total arrivals, the STB said. Average room rates based on data from January to November rose 23.5 percent from the same period in 2007 and total hotel room revenue climbed 14.1 percent.

However, the average occupancy rate fell 5.7 percentage points to 82 percent. Singapore is Southeast Asia's wealthiest economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita but its heavy dependence on trade makes it vulnerable to the impact of economic disturbances in developed economies.

GDP, the value of all goods and services produced by an economy, grew 1.5 percent in 2008, compared with a 7.7 percent expansion in 2007. The government has said the economy could contract by as much as two percent this year as the global economic slump worsens.

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