Singapore targets £4.5 bn tourists in 2007

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is aiming to achieve £4.5 billion in tourism receipts (TR) and attract 10.2 million visitor arrivals (VA) in 2007. These targets were announced by Mr. Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry, at the STB’s Tourism Industry Night, held at the newly revamped National Museum of Singapore, to more than 500 industry partners from the private and public sectors.

The TR and VA targets for 2007 reflect an increase of about 10% and 5% over the £4.1 billion TR and 9.7 million VA achieved in 2006 respectively.

“These aggressive targets are testimony of our confidence that the strong tourism performance could be sustained going forward. To this end, STB is building a pipeline of tourism projects that will capitalise on the heightened interest in Singapore as a tourism destination, following the award of the two Integrated Resorts,” said Minister Lim.

He also added that the STB would step up its efforts to tap on emerging markets showing strong outbound potential, such as the Middle East and Russia. STB will be expanding its global presence with the opening of an office in Moscow in the first half of 2007.

Welcoming the tourism industry partners to the event, Mr. Simon Israel, Chairman of the STB said the theme for the evening, “A Unique Transformation”, aptly reflected the stage that the tourism industry is at.

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“We laid a strong foundation with the setting of the Tourism 2015 blueprint and targets in January 2005. With the many tourism projects that have been launched since then, I am optimistic that we will be able to make the quantum leap to transform Singapore as a destination and the tourism sector as a key contributor to economic growth for Singapore,” said Mr Israel.

In 2006, Singapore hotels recorded £0.5 billion in room revenue, an increase of 21.2% over the same period in 2005. The Average Room Rate (ARR) grew at 19.6% over 2005 to reach an estimated £54; while the Average Occupancy Rate (AOR) was estimated to have reached 85% in 2006, an increase of 1.4 per cent over 2005.

Minister Lim highlighted several challenges that needed to be addressed to sustain the growth momentum for the tourism sector. These include the supply of hotel rooms, manpower and service quality.

The healthy hotel occupancy and room rates seen in 2006 also point to a need to have more hotel rooms to meet demand. The Government would continue to make available more sites for hotel developments. Over the next two years, about 1,000 rooms will be added to the hotel room inventory each year, and another 4,300 new rooms when the two Integrated Resorts are completed by early 2010. This year will see the opening of five new hotels such as the St Regis Hotel, Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa, and The Boutique [email protected] Bahru.

Manpower will also be a challenge in the coming years, given the need to develop a skilled tourism workforce to fill the additional jobs created in the tourism industry.

The STB has been working with educational institutions to offer more tourism and hospitality-related courses at all levels to ensure a steady source of trained manpower for the industry. At the same time, the collective efforts of agencies such as the WDA, NTUC and SNEF will also help upgrade the skills of existing workers through retraining.

Minister Lim called for support from tourism industry partners in raising the skills and competencies of their employees through investing in training, being more open and flexible in employing mature workers or those making mid-career changes, as well as taking pro-active steps to redesign jobs so they would command higher wages and therefore be more attractive to locals.

Going further, Minister Lim said the industry needed to raise its service standards and added: “While much has been achieved with the “Go the Extra Mile for Service” or GEMS movement, this is a road without end. We must maintain this momentum and continue to enhance our service standards. Only by a relentless pursuit of excellence could we ensure that visitors will leave Singapore with a memorable experience.”

Minister Lim also announced that Messe Berlin, the company behind ITB Berlin, has agreed to launch an Asian edition of ITB in Singapore in 2008. “The decision to anchor ITB Asia here demonstrates Messe Berlin’s confidence in Singapore as a staging venue as well as the company’s optimistic outlook of the growth potential for tourism in the region,” he added.

ITB Berlin is the largest tourism trade show in the world. ITB Asia is projected to grow exponentially over the next few years and could rival the size of Singapore Air Show and CommunicAsia, attracting tourism exhibitors and trade visitors from all over the world, including tour operators, airlines and hotels. More details about ITB Asia will be shared in due course.

In 2006 the tourism sector generated an estimated £4.5 billion in TR, setting a new record and posting a double digit growth of 14.5% over 2005. Singapore also set a new high of 9.7 million VA last year, posting an increase of 9% over 2005. Total visitor days grew 9.0% to reach 32.9 million days in 2006.

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