- Posted by Christopher Ledsham
- On 26th May 2016
- anti-corruption, gambling, macau, singapore, tourism
The growing numbers of Chinese visitors to Singapore, many of which have been drawn by the reintroduction of gambling in the city-state, are playing a key role in boosting Singapore’s flourishing tourism sector among otherwise sluggish economic circumstances.
Since the country’s two casinos were opened in 2010, following a lengthy national ban, Chinese arrivals have grown from 1,171,337 to 2,106,164 per annum in 2015, a growth rate of 80% . This increase far exceeds the wider increase of tourist arrivals to Singapore seen over the same period; tourist numbers of all nationalities in 2010 totalled 11,638,663 and grew by 30.9% to 15,231,469 in 2015.
Singapore has been investing heavily in attracting Chinese tourists following more modest total Chinese arrival figures of 1,721,528 in 2014 and 2,106,164 in 2014 and 2015 respectively. This campaign appears to be paying dividends; the first quarter of 2016 alone has seen 747,381 Chinese nationals enter Singapore, which amounts to a 46.7% year-on-year increase on the equivalent figure of 509,386 in Q1 2015. Accordingly, a Credit Suisse report has predicted that this large number of Chinese arrivals – the most ever registered in a single quarter – may lead to 2016 breaking the country’s record in total annual arrivals from China.
These positive figures have come as a welcome relief to the slowing Singaporean economy, for which tourism makes up 10% of total GDP. Furthermore, gambling-related income represents roughly a quarter of this significant sector and the opening of the Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands casinos in 2010 have been credited with fuelling Singapore’s tourism boom.
Gambling hubs in East and Southeast Asia are well-placed to attract large numbers of Chinese visitors as the Beijing government’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign continues to drive tourists away from Macau and towards destinations considered to be less exposed to the Chinese authorities. As well as Singapore, countries such as Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have courted Chinese tourists and particularly benefit from lower levels of regulations than seen in Macau.
Russia is also looking to transform itself into a regional gambling centre, following the opening of the Tigre de Cristal casino in the Primorsky Integrated Economic Zone (PIEZ) in October 2015. The new casino, which is within flying distance for millions of hundreds of millions of regional customers, is owned by Hong Kong businessman Lawrence Ho and anticipates that 80% of its clients will be Russian, yet 80% of its takings will come from Chinese, South Korean and Japanese visitors. Notably, gambling is customarily illegal in Russia; however, the Primorsky region is one of four designated zones in which it is permitted, all of which border foreign countries.
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