Strong Singapore dollar and weak Indian rupee as well as a new tax on flat-screen television sets have reduced the Indian tourist visitors to the city state, it was reported on Thursday.
Singapore tourist guides and travel agents said their revenue has dropped by 80 per cent across all tiers of the market compared to six months ago.
"Singapore's currency is very strong and the rupee is very weak. We are becoming less competitive for the Indian market," The Straits Times quoted director at Luxury Tours and Travel, Michael Lee, as saying.
The Indian market now makes up 28 per cent of the agency's sales, down from 38 per cent, said Lee, adding that the tourists from the country were now going to Europe or elsewhere, travelling domestically or to cheaper shorter distances such as Thailand.
The tourist flow to Singapore was also affected by a 36 per cent duty on flat-screen TV set imposed by the Indian government in August. The move was part of Indian government’s efforts to stem the outflow of cash.
Duty-free TV screens worth up to 35,000 rupees each were part of the Indian tourist baggage of popular electronics goods brought home from overseas shopping.
Tourist guide Shanti Devi Krishnasamy said her monthly one to three-day tours of 10 to 15 Indian groups was now down to two to three groups.
The Indian tourists would save enough to shop for the flat-screen TV and make their Singapore trip worth-while.
"That’s gone too," Krishnasamy, 46, who has been a guide for six years, told the Singapore daily.
Dennis Law, director at Star Holiday Mart, said his travel agency’s Indian business has dropped by 40 per cent over the past six months.
India was Singapore's fifth largest tourist market with 6,70,000 visitors between January and September this year, according to data from the Singapore Tourism Board.
However, the travel agencies have reported a 20 per cent increase in bookings for Singapore tourists visiting India from next month and in December.
"Local travellers think it’s a good time to go to India. One Singapore dollar gets much more rupee," Eileen Oh, head of marketing and communications at ASA Holidays, told The Straits Times.
The Indian rupee was 49.7 to Singapore dollar on October 16, up from 44.15 in April.