Singapore expects surge in tourists this year

Mar 5, 2010 11:54 PM

Singapore said it expects tourist arrivals to surge as much as 29 percent this year as two new casino-resorts lure visitors to the Southeast Asian city-state.

Arrivals will likely increase to between 11.5 million and 12.5 million this year from 9.7 million last year when they fell 4.3 percent, the Singapore Tourism Board said Friday.

Revenue from tourism could jump by almost half to between 17.5 billion Singapore dollars ($12.5 billion) and SG$18.5 billion this year from SG$12.4 billion in 2009, the board said.

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Singapore is counting on resorts opened this year by Malaysia's Genting Bhd and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) to help fuel tourism and economic growth as the government gradually emphasizes services over manufacturing.

Genting's Resorts World Sentosa, which opened Singapore's first casino last month, said Friday it plans to open its Universal Studios theme park on March 18. The Marina Bay Sands is scheduled to open April 27.

"With the global travel industry expected to recover this year, we are confident that the sector will be able to register its best performance to date," Aw Kah Peng, the board's chief executive, said in a statement.

Singapore's economy shrank 2 percent last year, and the government expects growth this year between 4.5 percent and 6.5 percent.