Singapore visitor arrivals soar 30% in May

SINGAPORE: Singapore welcomed 30.3% more visitors in May than the same month a year ago as the city-state's two new casinos helped draw in tourists.

The Singapore Tourism Board said on Monday that 946,000 people visited the city-state last month, up from 939,000 in April and 726,000 in May 2009.

The figure was the largest ever for the month of May and followed record highs for the months of December to April.

Indonesia, India and Malaysia provided the largest number of visitors to the city-state, while arrivals from Hong Kong chalked up the strongest growth of 48.8% compared with a year ago.

Separately, Singapore's Changi Airport, Asia's fifth-busiest, said it saw a 21.6% rise in passenger traffic in May to 3.39 million, its highest monthly percentage growth in six years.

"The increase in passenger traffic was partly driven by the Vesak Day long weekend and the beginning of the mid-year school holidays at the end of May," Changi Airport Group said in a statement.

Changi Airport also said its cargo volume rose 14.7% last month to 153,098 tonnes.

The higher number of travellers also bolstered Singapore Airlines, the world's second largest carrier by market value, which reported an 8.4% increase in the number of passengers to 1.32 million in May.

Singapore hopes to double visitor arrivals to 17 million by 2015, and is counting on mega casino-resorts opened this year by Malaysia's Genting Bhd and Las Vegas Sands to help fuel tourism and economic growth.

Las Vegas Sands, the world's most valuable casino firm, said last week its US$5.5 billion (RM17.7 billion) Singapore casino has exceeded forecasts since opening in April and could draw up to 150,000 visitors a day once operations are in full swing.

According to the tourism board, Singapore hotels reported an average occupancy rate of 85% in May, up 17.1% points from 68% a year earlier, pushing the average room rate up by 13.4% from a year ago to S$209 (RM486) a night. -- Reuters
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