Straits Times: Singapore ranked second-most visited city in Asia-Pacific
It is fifth on global scale, and top in the region for spending by visitors
Kok Xing Hui
Singapore has emerged as the second-most visited destination in the Asia-Pacific region by international visitors last year and No. 1 in terms of the amount they spent.
Bangkok led the pack of Asia-Pacific cities with 19.41 million visitors, while Singapore had 13.22 million. The visitors to Bangkok spent US$14.1 billion (S$19 billion), while those to Singapore spent US$15.7 billion.
This is according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released yesterday.
On a global scale, out of 132 cities, Singapore was the fifth-most visited last year - up from sixth in 2015, while New York dropped one spot to sixth, with 12.7 million visitors. Singapore inched past New York for the first time in three years, said MasterCard.
Top of the global list was Bangkok, followed by London at 19 million, Paris at 15.45 million, and Dubai at 14.87 million - all retaining their positions from 2015.
About three-quarters of visitors to Singapore were here for leisure, while the rest visited for business.
Most visitors here were from China, with 2.3 million visiting last year, compared with 712,000 in 2009. This was followed by two million Indonesian visitors, one million Indians and 802,000 Australians.
The MasterCard data tallies with Singapore Tourism Board (STB) figures, which showed that visitors from China spent an estimated $3.52 billion here last year, a 39 per cent or nearly $1 billion increase from 2015.
The STB data also showed that last year was the second year in a row that China emerged as Singapore's top-spending market, beating Indonesia, which has traditionally been the top spender.
MasterCard Singapore country manager Deborah Heng said Singapore's "world-class offerings", from tourist attractions to medical services to its transport system, helped push the city to its top five global destination position.
"With tourism a key contributor to Singapore's economy, it is also notable that this year-on-year growth in visitor arrivals is accompanied by the highest overall tourist expenditure in Asia. This excellent showing demonstrates how collaboration between the public and private sectors can drive the right results for the local economy."
Ngee Ann Polytechnic senior lecturer in tourism Michael Chiam said Singapore was popular because it has a lot to offer people from various age groups and with different interests.
He cited as an example a family with children being able to visit theme parks, those with an interest in musicals being able to catch Broadway shows here, and those interested in gastronomy being "spoilt for choice with different cuisines and price points".