Here’s Why Singapore is Still Not Seeing an Influx of Chinese Tourists


Chinese tourists have long been polarising, especially in Western media, where they’re usually portrayed as a (pretty cringe-worthy) stereotype.

Regardless of your views on Chinese tourists, though, there’s no denying they contribute greatly to Singapore’s economy—in 2019, they spent more than SG$4 billion while holidaying here.

However, even as COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past, Chinese tourists aren’t flocking back to sunny Singapore. But why is this so?

Travel Costs Too High

You’ve probably noticed the cost of living rising. That teh-o you buy before work now costs a whopping 50 cents more, and your cai png is more expensive, even though you’re getting a suspiciously smaller serving of meat.

Singapore’s core inflation has been climbing steadily over the years, although COVID-19 might’ve eaten into our savings. Things are more expensive, and we aren’t exactly richer.

The reality is this: Singapore is getting too expensive. 

Ever since China opened its borders in January, Chinese travellers have chosen to head to our neighbouring countries, where everything is more affordable.The high costs in Singapore have spurred Chinese tourists to turn to cheaper destinations in Indonesia and Thailand instead.


Major attractions in Singapore are expensive—a ticket to enter Universal Studios Singapore (USS) costs around $61 at best. A trip to the Zoo would set you back $50.

Even in a post-pandemic era, Chinese tourists still feel the impact of the pandemic on their finances, and this changes their spending ability and decisions of where to travel to. Chinese tourists who’ve been to Singapore in recent months cited their shock when met with high taxi and transport fees.

Outbound tourism from China has also taken a hit post-pandemic—plane tickets generally cost more nowadays on international flights. 

As China’s economy sees its growth rate slowing, Chinese travellers are also more likely to exercise caution in spending, leading to a decrease in outbound tourism on the whole.  

What’s The Situation Like Now?

To get it out of the way, we’re not making things cheaper, sorry.

The Singapore Tourist Board (STB), however, still hopes that 2023 will see traffic of 30-60% of the number of Chinese tourists that came here in 2019. 

2019 saw 3.63 million Chinese tourists visit Singapore, making them the top source of tourists to our country. Indonesia came in second, with 3.11 million Indonesian tourists making the trip here. This was followed by Malaysia and Australia.

According to the STB, only 311,000 Chinese tourists visited Singapore between January and May this year. During the same period in 2019, this number was 1.55 million.

However, the STB remains hopeful that Chinese tourism to Singapore will pick up, as outbound travel from China picks up post-pandemic.

Right now, outbound flights from China to Singapore are limited—the number of direct flights weekly in June was half of 2019’s. 

In 2019, Chinese tourists spent the most in tourism receipts, totalling at a whopping SG$4 billion. The pandemic has caused this figure to fall nearly 85%, however, and Indonesia now wins out in tourism spending. 

Tourism recovery could also have been affected by a second wave of COVID-19 in China between April and May.

Where Are They Going, Then?

It’s no surprise that Thailand is a popular destination among Chinese tourists—Thai officials foresee traffic of five million to seven million visitors from China this year.

Thailand is a popular destination among Singaporeans too—our top travel destination is actually Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok.


Cheap food, cheap clothes, cheap flights and a bustling, yet welcoming city—what more could a tourist want?

Japan and South Korea remain popular holiday spots for Chinese tourists. Indonesia saw an unexpected increase in tourism from Chinese travellers as well.

Fresh grads, you don’t need any experience to earn up to $4,200 with this “secret”:

Read Also: