Tourists choose shopping over gambling: Bloomberg

Shopping has taken over gambling as the biggest earner in Singapore’s tourism industry, rising 44 percent year-on-year in the six months through June, says Bloomberg.

According to official data, the period marks the first time that shopping revenue has outpaced casino revenue since 2012.

Around 2.1 million Chinese visited Singapore last year, said Bloomberg, double that of 2009 – the year before Singapore’s casinos opened.

Along with visitors from Indonesia and India, the three countries made up the top spenders in the second quarter of 2016, totalling 40 percent of all tourism receipts. Of these receipts, shopping comprised one-quarter of total spending, up 18 percent from the year earlier, according to the news outlet.

However, analysts say the rise in shopping is largely due to first-time travellers to Singapore.

Erwan Rambourg, global co-head of consumer and retail research at HSBC in London, said that “devoting a large chunk of one’s visit for shopping expenses is what first time visitors do.”

Casinos have been the major drawcard for Chinese tourists to Singapore, thus it is to be debated whether shopping will continue to outpace gambling, said the news outlet.

Last month, the Singapore Tourism Board reported that tourism receipts grew 12 percent year-on-year to S$11.6 billion ($8.2 billion) in the first half of 2016.

The growth was driven by strong growth of visitor arrivals in the six months, as well as increased spending on shopping, accommodation and beverage components.

The growth was somewhat stunted by a fall in Sightseeing, Entertainment & Gaming (SEG), which shrunk 17 percent to S$2.2 billion in the first half of 2016.

The performance of SEG was “due largely to the decline in gaming revenue as reported by the integrated resorts.”