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VISA Releases First Tourist Spending Report on Singapore

Travel News Asia 13 October 2004

In 2003, international VISA cardholders spent S$1.7 billion in Singapore, representing 25 percent of the countrys total tourism spend, according to Visa Internationals first detailed research on tourist spending in Singapore. This was a marginal five percent decline compared to 2002, against a steep drop in visitor arrivals due to the impact of SARS.

The latest official published data revealed that S$6.9 billion was spent by tourists in Singapore during 2003. This shows that for every S$100 spent in Singapore by tourists, S$25 was spent using a VISA card, up from S$15 in 1999.

Electronic payment is an increasingly important part of international travel and a key channel for delivering tourism revenues for a global travel destination like Singapore. The percentage of tourism receipts made via VISA cards has risen from 15 percent in 1999 to 25 percent in 2003. International payment cards play a vital role in facilitating tourism and tourist spending, said Mr. Dennis Ng, Visa Internationals Country Manager for Singapore and Brunei.

Better tourism data will help Singapore strengthen its competitiveness in attracting tourists and generating more high-value tourist spending. To support this, Visa commissioned Network Economics Consulting Group (NECG) to conduct the report titled Recent Trends in Spending by Visitors to Singapore. The report was based on data supplied by Visa as well as from official tourism authorities, Dennis added.

The Singapore report is part of a regional research study that covers seven other tourist destinations in Asia Pacific, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Thailand.

Who are the biggest VISA spenders in Singapore?

According to the report, top spenders in Singapore in 2003 were VISA cardholders from Australia who spent S$337 million, the United States (S$278 million), the United Kingdom (S$250 million), Indonesia (S$225 million) and Japan (S$169 million). Collectively, these five visitor sources accounted for 62 percent of total VISA spend in Singapore by international cardholders.

Visas report also analyzes the average spend per transaction and identifies visitors who have the potential in bringing high-yield tourism dollars. Average spend per transaction was on the rise, up from S$265 (US$150) for the past four years to S$298 (US$171) in 2003. This is third highest in the region and considerably higher than the average transaction size of US$147 for the Asia Pacific region overall.

Cardholders from Indonesia spent most per transaction in Singapore at S$470, followed by cardholders from Australia (S$360), Hong Kong (S$309) and New Zealand (S$303). Eight out of the top 10 high-yield cardholders by average transaction size were regional visitors from within Asia Pacific.

What are international cardholders buying in Singapore?

Overseas VISA cardholders spent most at Singapores retailers (S$840 million), followed by accommodation (S$269 million), transport services (S$160 million), clothing (S$127 million) and medical services (S$75 million).

Transport services and medical services have risen in importance as contributors to tourism revenue over the past five years. Transport services rose from eighth highest spend category in 1999 to third in 2003, while medical services also rose from ninth highest spend category in 1999 to fifth in 2003. Spend on sports and leisure activities fell from fifth highest in 1999 to seventh in 2003.

Notably, medical goods and services account for a much higher proportion of international VISA cardholder spending in Singapore than in other destinations in Asia Pacific, with Singapore being the only destination in Asia Pacific where medical services rank among the top five in terms of total spend.

Among all retail merchants in Singapore, international VISA cardholders spent most on computer products (S$240 million), followed by department stores (S$160 million), jewelry stores (S$138 million), clothing (S$127 million), household goods (S$69 million) and electronic stores (S$66 million). 

Australians in particular are big spenders on computer and electronic products, their spend of S$174 million on computer and electronic goods represented more than half of their total spending in Singapore.

Most notably, average spend per transaction on transport services (S$635), medical services (S$516) and retailers (S$384) by international VISA cardholders was highest in Singapore compared to other Asia Pacific destinations.

Visas data seems to reflect some of the underlying strengths Singapore has as a travel destination our high quality medical services, competitive technology products and growing status as the airline hub of Southeast Asia. We look forward to continue working with the tourism board, our network of merchants, our airline partners including the latest low cost carriers and the travel and tourism industry to leverage on Singapores strengths and attract high value tourist spending, Dennis added.

Proportion of e-Commerce Transactions Highest in Region

Visas report also shows that online transactions by international VISA cardholders at Singapore merchants have been increasing consistently over the last five years. In 1999, only less than three percent of all international cardholder spending in Singapore was made online through e-commerce; by 2003 this has risen to 12 percent (S$241 million) the highest proportion of e-commerce by international cardholders for any destination country in the region.

See other recent news from: VISA

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