International tourist arrivals to Singapore in the first half of this year fell by 2.8 percent year-on-year to 7.5 million, mainly due to a decline in the number of Chinese visitors.

According to a report released by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on August 26, the number of Chinese visitors decreased 30 percent to 871,000 following the implementation of the China Tourism Law in October 2013.

Under the law, travel agencies cannot offer packages below cost in the hope of making up the difference through additional tourism services (including tourist guide fees) that require additional payment, and commissions from designated shopping places in the itinerary.

The STB named other factors that affected Chinese tourist arrivals, including the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, abduction of Chinese tourists in Sabah, and political unrest in Thailand.

Topping major markets are Indonesia with 1.525 million people visiting the island city in the first half, a yearly increase of 30 percent. China came second and Malaysia third with 592,000 visitors (down 2 percent).

As many as 206,000 Vietnamese people visited Singapore in the Jan-June period, up 12 percent from the same period last year.

Based on the STB’s tourism performance report for the first quarter of this year, Singapore ’s tourism receipts continued to grow 5 percent year-on-year to hit 6 billion SGD (roughly 4.8 billion USD). The industry’s 2014 targets are 16.3-16.8 million international tourist arrivals and 23.8-24.6 billion SGD in tourism revenues.-VNA