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February 12, 2009

Singapore Tourism:
Fewer tourists, revenues seen in 2009

Singapore sees a gloomy year ahead for tourism, with visitor arrivals expected to fall as much as 10 percent and revenues to plunge by nearly 20 percent in 2009.

"The global economic downturn inevitably will impair the strong tourism growth that Singapore has enjoyed in recent years," Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry S. Iswaran was quoted by Reuters as telling an industry conference Wednesday.

He said the Singapore Tourism Board projects the number of visitors to the island-state will fall to between 9 million and 9.5 million in 2009 from 10.1 million last year.

Tourism receipts were expected to fall to S$12 billion to S$12.5 billion ($7.98 billion-$8.31 billion) in 2009 compared with $14.8 billion in 2008, he said.

Visitor arrivals for all of 2008 fell 1.6 percent compared with 2007. However, tourism receipts proved more resilient, rising 4.8 percent to a new record of S$14.8 billion, the tourism authority said in January. Hotel room revenues for 2008 also hit a record high of $S2.1 billion, an increase of 12.1 percent over 2007.

Singapore's tourism industry suffered a tough time in 2003 when the SARS epidemic resulted in a 19 percent year-on-year decline in visitor arrivals and hotel occupancy dipped to as low as 20 percent at one point, according to Iswaran.

Singapore has been trying to move away from manufacturing into service industries such as finance and tourism to diversify its economy.

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