Singapore is banking on cruise tourism to grow meetings and incentive trips out of China, which the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) deemed as â€śimportantâ€ť segments of Singaporeâ€™s business events pie.
Yap Chin Siang, assistant chief executive, policy and planning group, STB, noted: â€śThe growth momentum (of cruise tourism) has been very healthy in recent years. We are constantly looking for new ideas and initiatives to see how we can up our game. Weâ€™ve got very strong partnerships with many industry stakeholders, but thatâ€™s not all that we can do with them.â€ť
Yap explained that STB is also on the lookout for cruising companies such as Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruises to sail newer and larger ships to Singapore, as well as to lengthen the winter homeport season in Singapore into the summer months to â€śopen up new marketsâ€ť for the country.
In 2018, total cruise passenger throughput was 1.9 million, up by 35 per cent from 2017. This was attributed to the year-round homeport of Genting Dream and extended sailings by Royal Caribbean.
The government has also made it easier for Chinese travellers visiting Singapore. Earlier in January, Chinese visitors were granted a 96-hour visa-free entry to and from Singapore for transit to a third country. Passports must be valid for not less than six months, visitors must have a valid air ticket for departure within 96 hours and proof of stay at the next destination country.
Other avenues that Singapore is banking on for increasing Chinese corporate spending includes leveraging Singaporeâ€™s fintech events scene, and spreading the Passion Made Possibleâ€™s brand awareness in not just tier-one, but also tier-two cities.
Increased flight connectivity between Singapore and tier-two cities on budget carrier Scoot and various Chinese carriers is also helping to bolster opportunities. In 2018, Singapore registered strong growth of six per cent from cities such as Nanchang, Haikou, Jinan and Nanning, compared to 2017, to reach one million arrivals.
According to STB figures, China was the top source market for total visitor arrivals in 2018, rising six per cent to just over 3.4 million.