|By Lily B. Libo-on, Khaleej Times, Dubai,
United Arab EmiratesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sep. 13, 2009--DUBAI -- Singapore has been seeing a double-digit growth in tourism arrivals from the Middle East for three consecutive years since 2006, a trend which is helping it offset the effects of economic global downturn.
Jason Ong, Area Director for Middle East and Africa, Singapore Tourism Board, told Khaleej Times that the island city-state is proud to be among the world's top destinations for Middle East-based travellers, whose numbers continue to grow, "For the first half of 2009, Singapore received 53,575 visitors from the region, a six per cent increase over the 2008 figures for the same period."
He said that the UAE, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait are the leading visitor markets of Singapore in the Middle East.
In all, 113,934 Middle East-based tourists visited Singapore during 2008, a 16 per cent increase in the number recorded during 2007. "Year 2008 marks the third year of consecutive double digit growth in the number of Middle East visitors to Singapore. Middle East visitors are increasingly discovering Singapore's unique tourism appeal and I am confident that this trend will continue in 2009 and beyond," Ong said.
"Although we have seen a slight recession in travel trends worldwide, and health concerns such as H1N1 have affected the global tourism industry, we are confident that the mid- and long-term developments in the island-city like the Integrated Resorts and Orchard Road will attract increasing traffic from the Middle East and the GCC," Ong added.
The tourism director said the emerging markets in the Middle East continue to play an important role in Singapore's tourism growth strategy and have helped it in offsetting the effects of the global economic meltdown.
He said that Singapore's ever-changing landscape and tourism offerings make it an evolving destination where no experience is ever the same. "We constantly provide our new and returning visitors with something fresh and unique. In 2008, Singapore cemented its position as a leading hub with a slew of new attractions and events, including the Singapore Flyer, the world's largest observation wheel and the successful staging of the world's first Formula One Night Race."
According to Ong, new attractions designed to uphold the city-state's allure include the Integrated Resorts Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World at Sentosa, which are due for completion by early 2010, and the opening of new shopping malls along Singapore's premier Orchard Road shopping district.
"New malls such as Orchard Central and the luxurious ION Orchard, the recent completion of such hotels as Capella Singapore and Park Hotel Clarke Quay are further additions to Singapore's latest tourism offerings," he said.
He also said that key cultural events in Singapore highlight its cultural links to the Middle East region such as Hari Raya Festival (Eid celebration), a month-long event that takes place during Ramadan to celebrate the country's rich Muslim heritage.
Ong also said that continued infrastructure improvements and the introduction of premium family-friendly attractions ensure that Singapore is well positioned to offer Middle East-based travellers a unique and personal experience. "Singapore's Tourism Board also works closely with regional travel partners to provide tailored packages to suit all types of regional travellers. "This year, additional flights from Riyadh and Kuwait are making access to Singapore even more convenient to Middle East travellers."
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Copyright (c) 2009, Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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