Singapore welcomes 9.7 million visitors in 2009

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The Independent Online

Singapore welcomed 9.7 million visitors in 2009, down 4.3 percent from 2008 but exceeding forecasts due to an aggressive marketing campaign amid a global recession, the government said Tuesday.

A surge in arrivals in the final quarter of last year boosted the numbers to beat the government's forecast of up to 9.5 million visitors, the Singapore Tourism Board said in a statement.

Tourism receipts were estimated at 12.4 billion Singapore dollars (8.75 billion US), down 19 percent from 2008 but within the upper range of targets.

Singapore, a tiny island-state that relies mainly on man-made attractions to lure tourists, is hoping to boost visitor arrivals with the operation of two multi-billion-dollar casino resorts.

One of the casinos, Resorts World Sentosa, is expected to open this weekend, according to media reports. The complex will include a Universal Studios theme park. The other, built by Las Vegas Sands, is expected to open in April.