Singapore remains firm ME favourite despite downturn
The Middle East is holding up against the backdrop of the current economic slowdown and tourist arrivals from this region have registered a 13 per cent increase over 2007, according to Jason Ong, area director MEA, Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
“While we have seen a decline in our global numbers for visitor arrivals from June to Sept of 2008 versus 2007, this decline reflects the challenging global economic environment and outlook for the tourism sector, which may continue into 2009,” he said. Key performers for the STB have been the UAE and Iran followed by Saudi Arabia.
“There will continue to be strong demand from the Middle East to Singapore, although growth rates might moderate slightly. Singapore continues to be a firm favourite destination for the Middle East with our current range of family friendly attractions such as the Singapore Flyer [the world’s largest observatory wheel with a diameter of 175 metres launched in March this year] and Sentosa Island complemented by a range of exciting new products,” said Ong.
Some of these new products include a rejuvenated Orchard Road (Singapore’s famous shopping district) with new malls such as ION Orchard and the opening of the Marina Bay Sands, which will be Singapore’s first integrated resort.
“Visitors from this region feel very comfortable with what Singapore has to offer, with 15 per cent of the population being Moslem, and with English universally spoken. Singapore is a cultural melting pot and offers a warm welcome to people of all nationalities and religions,” he said.
Singapore is among the many countries that have built facilities fit for large cruise liners. The STB recently released details regarding the construction of a new international cruise terminal at Marina South, doubling the city’s cruise ship capacity. Planned to be completed in 2010, it will have two new berths that will be able to handle the largest ships in service, as well as those under construction.
The new cruise terminal will be about a 15 minute drive from the other terminal, the Singapore Cruise Center at Harbour Front, and very close to Marina Bay, the city’s financial hub and home to the Singapore Flyer.