TOURISM receipts and visitor arrivals hit new record highs last year, topping the stellar performance from 2016.
Preliminary estimates from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Monday showed tourism receipts climbed 3.9 per cent to S$26.8 billion, spurred by growth in visitor arrivals across all top 10 markets - China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, United States and Vietnam.
The increase in tourism receipts was also boosted by more visitor arrivals from high-spending markets such as China, South Korea, the US and the United Kingdom.
China emerged top in tourism receipts for the third straight year, although Indonesia logged a 7 per cent decline, India dipped 1 per cent and Japan fell 9 per cent, mostly because of fewer business travel and meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions visitor arrivals.
Visitor arrivals rose 6.2 per cent to 17.4 million, with 13 of the top 15 markets showing growth.
Of the 13 markets, seven - China, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, the US, the UK and Germany - also hit record visitor arrivals.
The top three largest markets for visitor arrivals were China, Indonesia and India. India saw the highest growth rate at 16 per cent and contributed the bulk of the growth in visitor arrivals together with China, which was up 13 per cent.
Vietnam became a top-10 market for the first time, although visitors from Thailand fell 3 per cent, and Hong Kong was down 13 per cent.
STB chief executive Lionel Yeo noted that Singapore's second straight year of record tourism performance was the result of the combined efforts of the STB and its industry partners, against the context of better-than-expected global economic recovery, continued growth in Asia-Pacific travel and increased flight and cruise connectivity to Singapore.
"Together with significant initiatives to support industry innovation and competitiveness, we made excellent progress in 2017 towards our vision of quality tourism growth," said Mr Yeo.
The STB expects tourism receipts for 2018 to grow between 1 and 3 per cent, coming in at around S$27.1 billion to S$27.6 billion.
International visitor arrivals are forecast to grow between 1 and 4 per cent, to reach 17.6 million to 18.1 million.
"With the global economic outlook looking favourable and Asia-Pacific tourism poised to expand, STB is generally optimistic about tourism prospects for the year ahead," it said.
"There are challenges that remain, however, especially geopolitical tensions that might affect consumer travel sentiments and intensifying regional competition."