Decline in Chinese tourists hits Singapore

Singapore - International visitor arrivals to Singapore fell 3.0% in the first half of this year, hurt by a 30% drop in tourists from China, official data showed Wednesday.

Singapore's tourism board said overall arrivals totalled 7.5 million in the six months to June, with second quarter numbers dipping by a sharper 6.0%.

Travellers from China totalled 871 000 in the first half, almost a third fewer than from the same period last year, the board said.

It said that a tourism law implemented by China in October last year which tightened regulations on overseas travel contributed to the decline.

"In addition, the disappearance of flight MH370, abduction of Chinese visitors in Sabah and political unrest in Thailand have all had a dampening effect on Chinese travel to the region," the board said.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing in March while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 people aboard, mostly Chinese.

The aircraft has yet to be found, and Chinese families have accused Malaysia of mishandling the tragedy.

In April, a female Chinese tourist was abducted by gunmen at a diving resort in the Malaysian state of Sabah, along with a Filipino resort worker. Both were rescued nearly two months later.

In May, a Chinese fish farm manager was also kidnapped near Lahad Datu in eastern Sabah. He has since been released.

Most Chinese tourists visit Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand at the same time as part of large tour groups.

In June, Singapore mounted a drive in China to market itself as a standalone tourism destination.

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