Leisure travel and tourism in Singapore

Background of the project

Tourism Outlook - Singapore

Inbound Travel

International tourism has grown substantially over the years due to rising standard of living, technological advancement and globalization. Tourism is also one of the key industries with a significant impact on the global economy (Tham, 2006). In the case of Singapore, it received 10.3 million visitors and a total expenditure of $14.1 billion in year 2007 compared to 9.8 million visitors and a total expenditure of $12.4 billion in year 2006 (Singapore Tourism Board, 2007) during good economy. The increased in the arrival of visitors had also contributed a substantial growth in other tourism related industries such as the hotel industry which had seen increased in room revenue of 23.5% at $1, 857.6 million versus $1, 503.9 million in year 2006; food and beverages industry shown growth by 33.7% at $1,406.5 million in year 2007 versus $1,052 million in 2006; and Singapore Airlines(SIA) had declared an operating profit of $982 million for the first half of FY 2007-2008, an increase of 84.1% at $449 million compared to last year 2006-20071(SIA, Annual Report 2007).

Outbound Travel

Singapore is fairly a 'small red dot' on the globe with limited natural sceneries and leisure places for its people to enjoy. Hence, many of the Singapore residents prefer to travel out of Singapore. According to the data from Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA), the total outbound departures of Singapore residents for year 2008 had rose by 804,234 to 6,828,362 as compared to 2007 at 6,024,128.

There is a growing number of Singaporeans from all age groups, between 18 to 65 years old, travelling overseas frequently to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and Hong Kong SAR as it seemed that travelling has became part of their lifestyle. With the gradual increase in income level of employed workers as well as a good starting pay for the new comers who had just graduated from universities and began their working lives, the younger and better educated Singaporeans are now able to enjoy affordable recreational and leisure activities which could not have been possible previously. The peak travel seasons were spotted high in early June, November and December every year given its school holidays nationwide. Many parents choose to travel with children during these periods so they can enjoy the family togetherness. Otherwise, they would not have the flexibility to travel on any other month in view of the endless workload of working parent as well as stipulated school semesters that children had to abide by. The second most travelled season during the year would be those public holidays falling just before or after a weekend and many working Singapore residents would tend to take off days 3 from work, travelling to nearer destinations for leisure purpose. Travel agencies anticipated an increase in businesses during these periods and plan to promote short trip packages to regional destinations for those who want to travel over the long weekends (Channel NewsAsia4, 2009). These destinations include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong (DSS, 2008).

Thus from the data, it sparked our interests to find out the travel trends of Singapore residents such as the number of trips and cost of travel made in a year, preference to travel by package or free and easy, preferred destination and travel agency etc., in Singapore during good and bad times.

Objectives and Research questions

The main purposes developed for this project is to investigate the recent trends involved in leisure travelling and tourism in Singapore using data obtained in an empirical study.

The following are the objectives of this study include:

Objectives

  1. To find out the extent to which the different trends involved on travel for Singaporeans.
  2. To investigate if there is any correlation between the income level and place of travel with the citizens of Singapore.
  3. To find that these recent trends are supported by marketing tools.

Research Questions

Based on the objectives the study aims on the leisure travel and tourism in Singapore. In order to serve the above purpose we will address the following three research questions.

RQ 1: What are the trends involved on travel for Singaporeans?

RQ 2: How does the correlation exists between the income level and place for travel?

RQ3: How do the existing trends can be supported by recent trends in marketing?

Significance of the Study

The present research focuses to examine the trend of travel from a Singaporean's perspective given the intensified frequency on outbound travel by per Singaporean in the recent years. This research highlights the market-based management as well as strategies for growing customer value. It also includes empirical analysis that involves gathering of travel profiles from selected subjects; secondary data is collected via literature reviews and statistical research by reliable and established sources.

Literature review

Introduction

In Singapore, a number of research works had placed their focus on visitor's travelling trend (inbound) to Singapore, analyzing travellers' choice of travel agency (Tak and Wan, 2005; Heung and Chu, 2000) and travellers usage on travel agency (Goldsmith and Litvin, 1999). However, there is no research on outbound travel particularly in areas like examining the trend of travellers' profile in Singapore that affect or influence them in travelling especially during bad times where the world is facing economic downturns as well as the current swine flu influenza which appeared abruptly in April 2009 killing 231 people in Mexico, Canada and USA (World Health Organisation, 2009).

According to the Singapore Department of Statistics for year 2008, Singapore had a population of 4.84 million and out of which, 3.64 million were Singapore citizens (including permanent residents). Singapore's socio-demographic had changed rapidly over the years especially the growing aging population as highlighted in the report on aging population (2006) that the number of residents aged 65 years or older will multiply threefold from current 300,000 to 900,000 in year 2030; dual income families (the average monthly household income from work6 had grew by 12.5% at $7,750 in year 2008 vs. $6,890 of last year); the growing trend of many young couples who prefer not to have children so as to enjoy two-person lifestyle (total fertility rate 2007 stood at 1.29 per female out of 42.6 female of general marriage rate); and rising of single adults (15% males and 12.6% females of age between 40 to 44) in year 2007. The studies by Chon and Singh (1995); Loverseeds (1997); Morrison et al, (1996); and Ross (1999) also revealed that the changes in socio- demographic had led to substantial changes in travel trends and leisure demand in the travel industry.

Travelling in time of Crisis and Risk

Tourism today is vulnerable to natural disasters and crisis. The effect of terrorists attacked in World Trade Center, New York and Pentagon had tremendously brought the tourism industry to a halt for a long period of time with an estimated loss of US10 billion (Floyd et al., 2004) and it took several months for travellers' to regain their confidence in travelling. The impact on the flow of information from the news media could changed the travellers' attitude, perception and behaviour on the impression of risks that travellers would face when travelling (Valencia and Crouch, 2008). Incidents of natural disasters, political unrest, wars, epidemics, and terrorism lead to perceived travel risks (Mansfeld, 2006), whereas tourist's ignorance of the probability of such events engage them in real risks (Wilks & Page, 2006). This remark had tallied with Laws Prideaux (2005) and Glaesser (2003)'s findings that 'risk derives as the probability of an undesirable incident that leads to the possible negative consequences of a consumer's behaviour. Whereas, Beirman (2003) said that the perception of safety and security is a major determinant in traveller's decisions to visit a place.

Travel Expenditures

Travel expenditure patterns are vital to travel organizers and destination marketers (Jang et al., 2004). The growth in international tourism spending had reached 5.6% (adjusted for exchange rate fluctuations and inflation) in 2007, in particular strong in Asia and Pacific with an increase of 11% (WTO, 2008). The total travel expenditure in Southeast Asia for year 2007 has increased by 24% at USD54 billion compared to last year of USD 43.6 billion (WTO, 2008). The expenditure incurred on travel fall mainly in these categories, which were also important pillars of the economies in that country - returned airfares, lodging, food and beverages, transportation and recreation activities. WTO also reported that nearly 80 countries earned more than USD1 million from international tourism in 2007. In examining the travel expenditure pattern of Japanese to United States, Jang et al. (2004) concluded that Japanese travellers (non package tour) spent an average of $3265 in United States. The higher income Japanese (with an annual household income above $100,000) spent an average of $4367 while, the lower income Japanese (annual household income below $100,000) spent an average of $2831. The high income travellers spend significantly more. The study also revealed that Japanese travellers with companions tend to spend more than those travel alone. In Zhang et al. (2004)'s study, the authors concluded that respondents with higher income (US$30,000 or above) perceived travel cost less important than those lower income groups (US$14,999 or below). Hong et al. (2005) revealed that financial factors indicate that there is a significant positive relationship between income and assets and leisure travel spending, that is employed families spent significantly more than unemployed families during leisure travel, whilst, retired families spend the same amount as unemployed families but more on accommodation.

Income and Travel Distance

Hoe (2007) reported that in the 2007 Country Brand Index, a global survey made by over 2,600 international travellers, Singapore was ranked as the first Asian country that most people want to live in among Asian cities, and came in fourth position in the global category.

In year 2008, there were 39% of employed households earned a median monthly household income of S$4950, and the residents' expenditure abroad had gradually increased from $11.54 million in year 2003 to $14.31 million in 2007(DSS, 2008). It was assumed that the household income has correlation with the number of overseas trips made by the individual or per household in a year.

Research in consumer behaviour has found that people of higher income would tend to search more for products/services information (Andereck and Caldwell, 1994; Runyon and Stewart, 1987; Robertson, Zielinski and Ward, 1984; Newman, 1977). Sparks and Pan (2009) also revealed that a higher percentage (51%) of the Chinese in China who earned more than 8000 yuan (67.1% of surveyed respondents earned more than 8000 yuan per month) were likely to travel outside China within the next 12 months. Similarly, Zhang et al. (1999)'s finding also revealed that people with higher income tend to travel further, but the relationship is not linear and the higher the respondents' self-perceived incomes the longer will be the travelled distance.

According to Nicolau and Mas (2005), the effect of distance and prices are moderated by tourist motivations at the moment of choosing a destination. The findings conducted in Spain concluded that individual is 'not incline towards long trips' and prefer shorter distance. However, they do not mind longer journeys if they are visiting family or friend or exploring new places. Contradictory, this group of people is unwilling to pay more for expensive places where family or friend resides but are willing to pay to explore new places. Nicolau and Mas (2005) also highlighted that people who are looking for culture are generally more willing to pay higher prices, whereas those looking for climate are less willing.

In Singapore, with the rapid changes in socio-demographic over the years, there had been an increasing number of young adults age ranging from 15 to 34 years old that travel overseas at least once a year to neighboring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand (DSS, 2005). Some of the possible reasons of short distance travelling could be financial constraints or not able to take longer leave from work. Heung and Chu (2000) found that travellers with lower income are more concern with pricing than travellers with higher income.

Intentions to Travel

Travel is considered a leisure activity (Turco, Stumbo, & Garncarz, 1998). Neal, Uysal and Sirgy (2007) also confirmed that travel is an important aspect of leisure life. Given the high standard cost of living in Singapore and heavy pressure from work, many Singaporeans chose to maintain a balance lifestyle between work and relaxation by travelling out of Singapore. Hence majority choose to escape from work to enjoy recreation activities with family or friends. Zabriskie & McCormick (2001) concluded that 'Families are still considered to be the fundamental units of society and are perhaps the oldest and most important of all human institutions. Examination of family leisure had consistently demonstrated a positive relationship between family recreation and aspects of family functioning such as satisfaction and bonding.' In another research work by Modell and Imwold (1998) suggested that there are several benefits of active involvement in recreational activities by the family, parents in particular, such as learning about diversity and socially appropriate behaviour, increased communication and self-esteem, and the development of friendships and social skills.

Methodology

The data used in this study was collected using the online survey method involving respondents of Singapore residents. This method was chosen as it is an ease and cheap way of targeting the respondents and collecting data. A structured questionnaire looking at different trends of travel and tourism of the Singapore was the main instrument used to collect the data. A five point likert scale ranging from 1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neutral, 4=agree and 5=strongly agree was used on the trends influencing travel and tourism in Singapore.

The questionnaire was first pre-tested on few students basically known as pilot study was made to ensure that the wording used was clear and understandable as w.ell as to estimate the time involved in filling the questionnaire

Statistical package for social science (SPSS) was used to analyze the data. Descriptive statistics, T-test were the statistical tools used in the analysis.

Outline of the Project

This thesis is organized into five sections.

Chapter 1 introduces the analysis of tourism outlook of Singapore for both inbound and outbound travel. It also outlines the objective, aim to achieve, and research questions.

Chapter 2 examines the past works and analysis conducted by various researchers performed in areas like travelling during crisis and risk, travel distance, travel expenditures, intentions to travel, travel behaviour, influences on attributes and purchases preference.

Chapter 3 presents the methodology used in this thesis and the research findings obtained through this methodology. Data collection strategies and analysis used would be presented in details. This chapter also consist the limitation of study, ethical considerations as well as sampling and population.

Chapter 4 examines the results collected from the survey .This chapter also includes a discussion of the findings to explain the reason behind the factors influencing the abroad education.

Chapter 5 concludes the study by summarizing the findings in this study and presenting the implications that could arise as well as the possible future directions.

Summary

Firstly In this chapter the background of the project explains briefly about the leisure travel and tourism in Singapore where the background also revealed the justification for the purpose of the study, which is followed by research questions and objectives of the project .Finally, this chapter provided the overview about the 5 chapters in this project independently.

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