Making it rain in Singapore: China tops tourist arrivals, biggest spending

China’s outbound tourism has big plans to take over the world. Source: Shutterstock.

CHINA is showing the world the money, becoming the biggest source of inbound tourism and biggest spenders in Singapore.

Previously, the title of the biggest source of arrivals was held by Indonesia for two whole decades. However, the surge in visitors from China last year boosted tourist numbers and spending to record highs for the second year in the row.

According to preliminary estimates released by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on this week, of the 17.4 million visitors who landed in Singapore last year, about 3.23 million flew in from China.

Also in the same preliminary estimates, STB said tourism receipts rose by 3.9 percent to SG$26.8 billion, with Chinese tourists spending SG$3.08 billion and claiming the top spot for biggest spenders.

So why are Chinese tourists gravitating towards the “little red dot”? Perhaps it’s the appeal of the Mandarin-speaking population, the tropical weather (China records blistering cold temperatures in the winter), or for the shopping.

The Chinese love shopping abroad for luxury goods because their country’s excessive tax regime on imported goods, combined with other taxes, can increase the price of luxury goods in China by up to 50 percent.

According to The Economist, the price of a Louis Vuitton handbag is 30 percent higher in China than in Paris. It’s not rocket science why Chinese tourists would rather spend abroad than at home. From a consumer’s standpoint, they are actually saving money while shopping.

After all, Singapore has been described as one big shopping mall, with an obsession for shopping that almost rivals its obsession with food. But Singapore’s not the only country that’s on the Chinese tourists’ radar.

According to International Ltd., China’s largest travel website, Thailand is the most popular destination for outbound China tourists, followed by Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and US.

Meanwhile, India saw the highest growth rate (up by 16 percent) and edged out Malaysia for third place in terms of tourist arrivals, despite Malaysia being literally right next door to Singapore. India is one country to watch, as its fast-growing outbound travel market could account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020,