Hotel rates fall as tourism downturn bites

Singapore suffered a 12.9 per cent drop in visitor arrivals in January from a year ago as the global downturn and a sharp economic slowdown in Asia hurt tourism.

The fall in visitors comes at a time when Singapore is trying to boost tourism, with two multi-billion-dollar casino-resorts containing thousands of hotel rooms scheduled to open by the middle of next year.

The Singapore Tourism Board said in a statement dated Friday that the city-state received 771,000 visitors last month compared with 885,000 in January 2008 and down from 888,000 in December 2008.

The largest number of visitors came from Indonesia, China and Australia.

The tourism authority also said the average hotel room rate in Singapore fell 11.7 per cent to S$209 (A$213) in January from a year ago, while hotel occupancy plunged to 67 per cent from 85 percent a year earlier.

Las Vegas Sands is scheduled to open its Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore before the end of this year, while Genting International's Resorts World at Sentosa will open sometime next year.