The allure of retail shops has kept tourists at bay from Singapore casinos.
It is also the first time since 2012 that Shopping has overtaken gambling as the biggest earner in Singapore’s tourism. Among all visitors, those from China, Indonesia and India were the top three spenders in the second quarter of 2016, clocking up 40 per cent of all tourist receipts.
Data showed that some 2.1 million Chinese flew to Singapore last year, more than double that of 2009 – the year before the country opened the first of its two casinos.
But the question remains: will shopping continue to outpace gambling in Singapore despite its casinos remaining to be a major drawcard for Chinese tourists to the tiny Southeast Asian nation?
International credit debt watcher Fitch Ratings Inc. said Singapore – which has two casino resorts, Marina Bay Sands from Las Vegas Sands Corp, and Resorts World Sentosa from Genting Singapore Plc – will likely to see casino gross gaming revenues to “stall, on weakness in its VIP segment”.
“Poor returns make the prospects for additional casino licenses unlikely,” it added. The exclusivity period for the two existing Singapore casino licenses expires in 2017.
Fitch had said in a December 2015 report that Singapore government concerns about the risk of problem gambling among locals could be a factor in any consideration of whether to issue additional permits.
On the other hand, the government data showed that Chinese travelers spent a whopping S$1.15 billion shopping in Singapore last year, which compares with S$112 million for Japanese and S$175 million for Indians. They also spent the least on food and accommodation, a trend that’s little changed so far this year.
The official data also indicated that the k shelled out US$1,205 each in the city-state last year, just ahead of Thai visitors.