Number of tourists coming to Singapore swells, but did STB marketing play a role?

Destination marketing for Singapore is thought to have played a part in swelling the numbers of tourists coming to the country for the third year running with the Lion City seemingly seeing a bounce from prominent events in 2018 such as the Crazy Rich Asians movie, the Trump-Kim Summit and the Formula One night race.

Visitor arrivals and tourism receipts were both up for last year. The number of people coming to the Lion City grew by 6.2% to 18.5 million and tourism receipts saw 1% growth to $27.1 billion, according to a report by the Singapore Tourism Board.

The STB chief executive Keith Tan put the boost down to “a confluence of positive factors such as strong Asia-Pacific travel demand, increased flight connectivity to Singapore, and various high-profile events”.

Tan feels STB marketing played a big part in the success of 2018

He added: “It is also heartening to see our marketing efforts and collaborations with industry partners bearing fruit.”

There was growth in 14 of Singapore’s top 15 markets for overseas tourists – including the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam and Germany. The volume of visitors from India grew by 18%, while the numbers coming from Indonesia and China grew by 8% and 3% respectively.

The Marina Bay Sands rooftop pool

As well as the hotel industry doing well – with room revenue rising by 7.4% to reach $4 billion – the country also saw the number of high-profile conferences and events taking place in Singapore expand by an impressive 10%, equating to $3.44 billion in revenue.

Meanwhile, the cruise industry was said to have grown by 35% year-on-year, with a throughput of 1.87 million tourists in 2018.

Part of the explanation for the heightened awareness of Singapore as a destination could be down to the STB’s ‘Passion made Possible’ marketing campaign it was said, although there was no specific evidence to prove this.

But the STB did say it had been targeting emerging markets such as Myanmar, Vietnam and Russia. The board organised activities such as a pop-up art and augmented reality technology showcase, karaoke booths and “exclusive parties to shine the spotlight on what Singapore has to offer in arts and culture, as well as in nightlife and entertainment”.

The STB also entered into marketing partnerships with Changi Airport Group, Alipay, Spotify and Sentosa Development Corporation – which it said “led to improvements such as more cashless payments, attractive stopover packages and destination-related music recommendations for overseas visitors”.

Other new STB-anchored events in 2018 included Disney’s Marvel-themed experiences, the Singapore Cocktail Festival and the PVP Esports Championship.

For 2019, the board forecast further tourism growth of between 1 and 3%. But the STB warned: “Headwinds are expected in the year ahead, due to the volatility of the global political and economic environment, and stiffer regional competition.

“However, STB remains cautiously optimistic, and anticipates strong tourism growth particularly from Singapore’s key visitor source markets.”

The topic of marketing Singapore will also feature at the Mumbrella Asia Travel Marketing Summit in Singapore on May 7. Delegates will get to witness a lively session on ‘Product placement and destination marketing: The Crazy Rich Asians bounce for Singapore’.


It was indeed the film that took the world by storm in 2018, thanks partly to the stunning Singapore backdrop. As a result, locations and brands in the Lion City – like the Marina Bay Sands hotel and Changi Airport – did expect a huge marketing boost from their silver screen appearance.

A year on from its release, the session will ask – what are the outcomes for Singapore? Did the product placement work? Was it the destination marketing triumph the likes of the STB painted it to be?

A panel of media and marketing speakers will look at the evidence. They include Nielsen customer insights leader Garick Kea, who worked previously for Isentia and BlackBerry, and the editor of Singapore Airlines in-flight magazine (SilverKris) Jalean Wong, as well as the J. Walter Thompson Intelligence APAC director May Yee Chen.

Also joining them will be Joji Jacob, the co-founder and creative partner of Singapore independent creative agency BLK J and the entrepreneurial TripZilla founder and chief executive officer Winnie Tan.

Moderating the session will be the R3 principal and co-founder Shufen Goh, who can name among the clients for her consultancy work the likes of Singapore Airlines, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Visa and MasterCard.


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