Singapore offers financial incentives to woo Malaysian visitors


KUALA LUMPUR: The number of Malaysian visitors to Singapore is dropping, and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is concerned.

The main reason is the depreciation in the value of the ringgit. One Singapore dollar is now equivalent to RM2.98.

But, overall, too, spending by visitors to the island republic decreased last year.

Overall tourist receipts declined for the first time since 2009 last year, falling by 6.8 per cent to SD22 billion, according to a report in the Straits Times (ST).

Malaysian spending in Singapore, the report said, dived by a quarter to just SD637 million.

Malaysia has long been Singapore’s third-largest source of tourists, but with the ringgit depreciating by 20 per cent against the Singapore dollar in the past two years, it could slip behind fourth-placed India, said the report.

STB South-east Asia executive director Edward Koh told a press conference Tuesday that arrivals from Malaysia had fallen by 4 per cent and 5 per cent in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

To attract more Malaysians, the STB is offering financial support for business travel and promoting the island’s child-friendliness.

The STB has rolled out a programme just for Malaysia, offering cash credit to travel agents arranging meetings and incentive travel for groups of 20 or more staying a minimum of two nights. The programme is valid up to the end of next year.

The ST report said the programme came with complimentary visits to the SEA Aquarium, Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore River Cruise, or learning tours to places such as the NEWater Visitor Centre and Urban Redevelopment Authority City Gallery.

Organisers of business events in Singapore could also apply for grants to offset third-party costs such as marketing, content development and other professional services, said the report.

To attract families, the STB is launching a SingaporeJunior programme. It includes a seven-episode Web series debuting this Friday.

The ST report said the STB had also piloted an education programme with visits to 50 pre- schools in the Klang Valley and East Malaysia to highlight learning experiences at attractions such as the River Safari and Singapore Zoo.