SINGAPORE: Singapore's tourism sector thrived last year despite challenging economic conditions, with both visitor arrivals and tourism receipts exceeding forecasts to hit historical highs, according to figures released by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Tuesday (Feb 14).
Visitor arrivals grew 7.7 per cent to 16.4 million in 2016, driven by absolute growth in key markets where STB had been intensifying marketing efforts, the agency said during its press briefing on Tuesday. For instance, there were 36 per cent more visitors from China, while Indonesia and India saw 6 per cent and 8 per cent growth respectively.
Meanwhile, tourism receipts rose 13.9 per cent to S$24.8 billion on the back of food and beverage, shopping and accommodation spending, the agency said.
STB has also been promoting Singapore as a destination for business tourism, supporting more than 410 business events last year - 15 per cent more than the year before.
These events contributed 343,000 to visitor arrivals and generated approximately S$611 million in tourism receipts, it added.
STB's chief executive, Lionel Yeo, said the agency was "heartened" by the strong tourism sector performance in 2016.
"Despite challenges such as a weaker economic performance in some of Singapore's top source markets and a Zika virus outbreak, Singapore has managed to attract more quality visitors to contribute to economic growth."
The statutory board has implemented a slew of measures in the past two years to raise tourist numbers, including a S$20 million global campaign to attract more visitors in 2015, as well as restructuring to improve the productivity of the hotel and travel agent industries.
STB also supported a total of 52 technology-related projects through funds to help industry stakeholders improve their operations.