SINGAPORE, Feb 15 — Malaysia's depreciating ringgit dampened travel to Singapore, causing a two per cent decrease in tourist arrivals last year, says Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
Over a year, the ringgit fluctuated between 2.85 and 3.15 against the Singapore dollar.
Hong Kong registered the largest tourist arrival decline due to its weaker economic performance.
Besides Hong Kong and Malaysia, declines in visitor arrivals were also posted by Australia (two per cent), South Korea (two per cent) and Japan (one per cent).
However, both visitor arrivals and tourism receipts for Singapore exceeded forecasts and hit historical high in 2016.
While visitor arrivals grew by 7.7 per cent to 16.4 million, tourism receipts rose by 13.9 per cent to S$24.8 billion (RM77.6 billion).
"Singapore managed to attract more quality visitors contributing to its economic growth despite challenges like weaker economic performance in few of Singapore's top source markets and a Zika virus outbreak," STB's Chief Executive Officer Lionel Yeo said in its website today.
Top growth markets for visitor arrivals in terms of absolute growth for 2016 were China (36 per cent), Indonesia (six per cent) and India (eight per cent).
Singapore's vibrant tourism landscape was further enhanced with new attractions and lifestyle offerings such as KidZania Singapore, Future World at ArtScience Museum (Marina Bay Sands), COMO Dempsey, Michelin Guide Singapore, Chinatown Heritage Centre and Zouk at Clarke Quay.
Singapore's calendar of events remained vibrant with new events such as Ultra Singapore, the inaugural HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and "Music After 7" at Clarke Quay.
On the business tourism front, STB supported over 410 business events in 2016, a 15 per cent year-on-year growth.
These events attracted around 343,000 visitor arrivals and generated approximately S$611 million in tourism receipts, a 20 per cent and 28 per cent increase year-on-year respectively.
In 2016, the cruise industry saw 16 per cent passenger rise year-on-year to about 1.2 million and welcomed 10 maiden calls.
For this year, STB forecasts tourism receipts to be within S$25.1-S$25.8 billion, up four per cent, with international visitor arrivals to be within 16.4-16.7 million, a two per cent increase.
STB said global economic and political uncertainties will probably continue to persist and there will be increased regional competition for tourism dollars.
However, it said Singapore can benefit from the projected tourism growth in the Asia-Pacific region, and will continue to work closely with tourism partners to intensify efforts and sustain quality tourism growth. — Bernama