Asia round-up: Singapore’s visitation rises; SJM’s bonuses & Macau’s falling fraud

In today’s Asia round-up, we get the latest from Singapore, SJM Resorts and Macau... 

singaporerise

Singapore expects visitation to double in 2023 from 6.3 million 

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) expects its visitor arrival to double in 2023, from the 6.3 million tourists who landed in the country in 2022. 

The 6.3 million incoming travellers exceeded the STB’s initial prediction for between 4 and 6 million tourists to arrive at Singapore’s airports.  

Tourism receipts for the full-year 2022 are estimated to reach between $13.8bn and $14.3bn, only around 50% of what was generated pre-pandemic, in 2019. 

However, the STB not only forecasts significant growth for 2023 but expects tourism activity to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2024.  

STB Chief Executive Keith Tan said: “Our 2022 tourism performance underscores Singapore’s appeal as a leading business and leisure destination for post-pandemic travellers.  

“To sustain our growth in 2023 and beyond, we will expand our partnerships, build up a rich year-round calendar of events, ramp up investment in new and refreshed products and experiences; and continue to support industry efforts to build the capabilities they need to meet consumer demands.” 

For 2022, Singapore’s visitor arrivals were driven by its key source markets – neighbouring countries including Indonesia, India and Malaysia. 

Of course, better-than-expected results can, in part, be attributed to the improved VIP segment of Singapore’s major casinos.  

This came as frequent gamers were unable to visit Macau, due to persistent Covid-19 lockdowns driving tourists elsewhere.  

2022 alone saw hotel occupancy up at 79%, a vast improvement over the previous two Covid-dominated years.  

SJM Resorts follows suit by offering discretionary bonuses 

Macau concession holder SJM Resorts will distribute discretionary bonuses to its employees, equivalent to one month of salary. 

The move has been made to reward staff for their efforts over the past years, in which China has been subjected to strict Covid-19 lockdowns, ahead of the Chinese New Year.  

SJM Resorts follows MGM China and Melco Resorts in offering these discretionary bonuses.  

The operator will pay its staff in two installments, the first on 18 January 2023 and the second in July. 

SJM Resorts Managing Director Daisy Ho said: “I sincerely thank our team members for all their hard work and contribution in the past year. We have full confidence in the future of Macau.  

“As borders reopen in synchronicity with our government’s timely promotional efforts, we have seen encouraging tourism recovery.” 

Bonus payments for employees will be inclusive of base salary and guaranteed tips. However, employees with unpaid absence up to 31 days in the year, as well as those who have been at the company for under a year, will receive their bonus on a pro-rata basis. 

Suspicious bank transactions in Macau fall 

The number of suspicious bank transactions made by Macau’s casino operators has fallen 12% year-on-year for 2022, according to the region’s Financial Intelligence Office.  

A total of 1,177 reports were made in 2022, down from the 1,330 notifications made by gaming companies in the prior-year period.  

A reduction in such reports could be a result of junkets gradually being run out of the region, with updated gaming laws making it far more difficult for them to operate.  

Despite the legal upsides, the desolation of junkets has hurt Macau’s VIP segment.  

For 2022, Macau’s casino GGR fell 51% to MOP$42.2bn ($5.25bn) – with a string of long-held Covid-19 measures only being dropped at the start of 2023.  

Missed a big gambling industry story in Asia? Don't worry, Gambling Insider has you covered with our Asia round-up.        

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