Singapore tourism: Marina Bay a bull, Singapore Airlines a bear

Singapore tourism: Marina Bay a bull, Singapore Airlines a bear

Foreign gamblers are betting high at Marina Bay Sands. But they’re not all flying Singapore Airlines
High-roller approved. The Marina Bay Sands' casino made over S$3.72 billion in gaming revenue last year.

Two tales -- one of success, the other a failure -- came out of Singapore's tourism industry this week. 

The good news came via casino resort Marina Bay Sands, which reportedly took in S$17 billion in the nine months up to September 30, up 22 percent from the same period in 2010.

And most of the gamblers are foreigners. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, foreign visitors to Marina Bay Sands -- run by U.S. gaming group Las Vegas Sands Corp. -- now account for about four out of five visitors to the resort’s casino.

What’s more interesting, the WSJ says Marina Bay Sands reported S$3.72 billion in gross gaming revenue for 2011, equivalent to almost 50 percent of the total gaming win for the Las Vegas Strip over the 12-month period to November 30. 

The resort's hotels are also thriving. A report in Singapore's Today quoted Sands' billionaire chief executive Sheldon Adelson as saying he's in talks with the Singapore government to buy land adjacent to Marina Bay Sands resort to add an additional 1,000 to 1,500 rooms, as average occupancy rates are running above 90 per cent.

"We're turning people away," he said.

Things couldn’t be more different over at Singapore Airlines. Despite being voted Asia’s best airline and second best in the world in 2011 by Skytrax, the city state’s flag-carrier posted dismal earnings figures this week.  

In a statement to the Singapore Exchange, the airline said net profit for the three months ending December 31 fell to S$135.2 million from S$288.3 million a year earlier. 

The airline blamed the result on high fuel prices and the eurozone crisis.  

"Forward bookings continue to show signs of weakness in the final quarter of the financial year, due to uncertainty in the global economy and the protracted eurozone debt crisis," the company said. 

And Bloomberg's BusinessWeek reported Singapore Airlines also faces rising competition on long-haul routes from Middle Eastern carriers, while low-cost airlines Jetstar and AirAsia are luring budget-conscious travelers on Asian routes.