Singapore losing allure for Mainland Chinese

    Visitors from China to Singapore dropped 27 percent in the five months through May from a year earlier amid slower economic growth on the mainland and the impact of a new Chinese law that clamped down on cut-price shopping tours, Bloomberg reports. Total tourist arrivals slid 1.7 percent, according to the Singapore Tourism Board. A strengthening exchange rate, rising labor costs and a local sales tax are also to blame. The reduction in visitors from Asia’s largest economy contributed to a sales slides of as much as 4 percent. China’s anti-corruption campaign against extravagant spending by government officials and state-owned companies has also damped spending by Chinese at home and abroad. International tourists including those from China, Indonesia and India account for at least 20 percent of Singapore retail sales, with Chinese accounting for about half of that. Tourism Board data show Chinese visitors spent S$800 million ($640 million) in Singapore in the first quarter, of which almost half was on shopping.
    Arrivals from China have also been hurt by political turmoil in Thailand and the March disappearance of a Malaysian plane carrying many citizens from China, whose travelers often include Singapore as part of a broader Southeast Asian holiday, according to Song Seng Wun, a Singapore-based regional economist for CIMB Research. “It all adds up to a fairly bearish picture for the retail sector,” said Selena Ling, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore.
    Despite this, Genting Singapore said in May that gaming revenue from its venue on Sentosa island rose 29 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to $537.42 million.