HOTELS & TOURISM | Marianne Estioco, Singapore

Chart of the Week: The tourists are back, but the big spenders aren't

They're spending less on shopping and scrimping on hotels.

Good news: At long last, the Chinese tourists are finally visiting Singapore again. Bad news: The high-rolling Chinese are nowhere to be found, and retail sales and hotel room rates are slipping despite the meteoric rise in visitor arrivals.

This chart from Natixis shows that the number of Chinese tourists spiked in the beginning of 2016, but retail sales excluding motor vehicles continued to slide.

Digging deeper, statistics from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) show that international tourist arrivals jumped by a staggering 13.4% year-on-year to 3.16 million visitors in the first quarter of 2016. In particular, arrivals from China surged by 35.9% to 549,413 tourists.

At the same time, however, standard average room rates (ARR) at local hotels dropped by 1.6% to $242.4 per night during the quarter, while revenue per available room (RevPAR) dropped 1.1% to $204.0.

Even more telling, data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry show that the retail sales index excluding motor vehicles slid 4.2% year-on-year in the first quarter. Sales of watches and jewellery dipped 10.8% during the quarter, while sales of department stores declined by 4.2%.

"We believe that a significant portion of Chinese tourists are on group tours with short stays in the city-state," CIMB equity analyst Yeo Zhi Bin noted in a report, adding that the Chinese now form the largest source market for Singapore.

"We also note that the Chinese budgets the least for accommodation (18% of their travel budget), and the most for shopping (45% of their travel budget)," he added.

For 2016, the STB expects tourism receipts to stay flat in the range of $22.0 to $22.4 billion.

Do you know more about this story? Contact us anonymously through this link.

Click here to learn about advertising, content sponsorship, events & rountables, custom media solutions, whitepaper writing, sales leads or eDM opportunities with us.

To get a media kit and information on advertising or sponsoring click here.