Singapore visitor arrivals edge up to highest since COVID-19 travel restrictions

Singapore visitor arrivals edge up to highest since COVID-19 travel restrictions

a couple wearing face masks walk past the Merlion statue in Singapore
In this photo taken on Mar 14, 2020, a couple wearing face masks walk past the Merlion statue in Singapore. (Photo: AP/Ee Ming Toh)

SINGAPORE: Singapore saw its largest number of visitor arrivals last month since implementing travel restrictions at the end of March to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 14,676 visitors arrived in Singapore in November, according to data from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Thursday (Dec 31). 

This compares to about 750 travellers in April, after Singapore on Mar 23 restricted the entry and transit of all short-term visitors amid the heightened risk of imported COVID-19 cases. 

More than one-quarter of Singapore's arrivals in November hailed from China, with about 4,010 travellers. Indonesia accounted for about 3,120 visitors, while Malaysia made up 1,200 of the arrivals.

Some of the other visitors came from Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Australia, the United States, Hong Kong, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Taiwan and France.

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Despite visitor arrivals improving 9.5 per cent from October, last month's figure was still a fraction of the 1.53 million visitors in November 2019, registering a 99 per cent drop year-on-year.

STB defines visitor arrivals as international visitors whose length of stay is less than a year in Singapore. 

This excludes Malaysian citizens arriving by land as well as returning Singapore citizens, permanent residents and pass holders. Crew members on public modes of transport, military personal and transit or transfer passengers are also not included.

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STB data also showed that hotel room revenue plunged 82 per cent year-on-year at S$66.3 million as of November. This was also down 0.6 per cent from October which recorded S$66.7 million.

The standard average occupancy rate for November was 53.8 per cent, compared to 88.9 per cent the year before. 

Standard average room rates in November was S$144.60, up from S$138.20 in the October, but down 33.2 per cent from S$216.50 in the same month last year.

Singapore’s aviation and tourism industries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Health on May 19 said Singapore would gradually reopen its borders with safeguards in place to allow Singaporeans to conduct essential activities abroad and for foreigners to enter and transit through the country.

It has set up reciprocal green lanes with some countries to facilitate short-term essential business and official travel, and launched an air travel pass to allow short-term visitors from some countries to enter Singapore.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Nov 25 said Singapore needs to manage the risks – not eliminate them entirely – as the country prepares to reopen for travel.

Global travel “will never be the same again” even after COVID-19, he said. But changes to the way people travel and how events are conducted were "already on the horizon" before the pandemic.

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Source: CNA/zl

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