It would be an understatement to say that it hasn’t been a great year for Chinese tourism in Southeast Asia, where the Malaysian Airlines fiasco, social unrest in Thailand, and anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam have caused dips in Chinese visitor numbers. These declines haven’t been confined to the borders of each troubled country: they’ve also been negatively affecting Chinese tourism rates to neighbors such as Singapore, prompting it to launch a new SGD$1 million ($799,808) campaign to woo these visitors back by promoting itself as an attractive standalone travel destination.
The campaign, which lasts until October this year, is jointly organized by Singapore airport operator Changi Airport Group (CAG), the Singapore Tourism Board, and Chinese and Singaporean travel agencies. Titled “Rediscover Singapore From Your Heart,” it encourages Chinese travelers to visit Singapore alone instead of going along with a multi-destination tour group. Most Chinese tourists, according to South China Morning Post, tend to visit Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand as part of a packaged tour since they’re connected by land routes.
The CAG, according to SCMP, handled 1.87 million passengers to and from China between January and May this year, a 1.7 percent drop from the year before. Singaporean officials declined to link the drop directly with the events happening in the neighboring countries, but they do know that this is a lucrative visitor group they don’t want to lose. According to the Straits Times, Singapore’s tourism board figures show that Chinese travelers spent SGD$1.52 billion ($1.216 billion) last year excluding sightseeing and entertainment, overtaking Indonesians as the biggest spenders.
The country’s new efforts could pay off as more Chinese travelers venture abroad independently. Edward Chew, Greater China regional director at the Singapore Tourism Board, told SCMP that Singapore was already “seeing more Chinese visitors traveling to Singapore as a mono-destination.” He added that the length of stay is longer compared to those on multi-destination package tours.