Singapore launches tourism campaign in China after hit by MH370 mystery and Thai crisis

As tourist numbers fall, the Lion City distances itself from crisis-hit neighbours

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 3:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 5:00am


Singapore is mounting a drive in China to market itself as a standalone tourism destination, officials said yesterday, after a drop in Chinese arrivals to neighbouring countries also affected the city state.

The Straits Times reported yesterday that Singapore's tourism sector was being hurt by Chinese travellers' reluctance to visit Malaysia due to the ongoing flight MH370 mystery, and Thailand because of its political crisis.

The five million yuan (HK$6.2 million) marketing campaign, which will last until October, will encourage Chinese travellers to visit Singapore alone.

It is jointly organised by Singapore airport operator Changi Airport Group (CAG), the Singapore Tourism Board and Chinese and Singaporean travel agencies.

The CAG said Changi handled 1.87 million passengers to and from China between January and May, a 1.7 per cent drop from the year before, but Singaporean officials declined to link this directly to events in nearby countries.

Out of a total 15.5 million visitors to Singapore last year, 2.27 million were from China, according to government data. They spent a total of US$298 million, making them the biggest tourist spenders in the city state.

Michael Chiam, a lecturer in tourism at Singapore's Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said "it makes sense for Singapore to dissociate itself" from its crisis-hit neighbours.

Most Chinese tourists visited Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand on the same holiday as part of large tour groups, he said.

Edward Chew, regional director for the Greater China region at the Singapore Tourism Board, said the city state was already "seeing more Chinese visitors travelling to Singapore as a mono-destination".

"They also stay longer than those on multi-destination package tours, so as to enjoy Singapore at a more in-depth level."

Lacking the white-sand beaches and other natural wonders of its bigger neighbours, Singapore offers a wide array of man-made attractions, including two casino resorts and a Universal Studios theme park.