Singapore expects record 12 mln visitors this year - PM

SINGAPORE Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:12pm EST

SINGAPORE Nov 29 (Reuters) - Singapore expects visitor arrivals to hit a record of around 12 million this year, helped by the success of the city-state's two multi-billion-dollar casinos, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday.

He made the remarks in an address to members of the ruling People's Action Party, Channel News Asia reported on Monday.

His comment indicates Singapore expects visitor arrivals this year will rise about 24 percent from last year's 9.68 million.

Singapore legalised casinos in 2005 as part of a plan to double visitor arrivals to 17 million by 2015.

Genting Singapore's Resorts World at Sentosa opened its doors in February this year, while Las Vegas Sands' Marina Bay Sands began operations in late April.

Singapore's visitor arrivals in the year to September have totalled around 8.6 million. The figures do not include the thousands who cross over from Malaysia daily by land to work in the city-state.

Tourism currently accounts for about 5-7 percent of Singapore's economy but could grow to as much as 12 percent by 2015 based on government projections on visitor spending, economists have estimated. [ID:nSGE67B01U]

(Editing by Kim Coghill) (By Kevin Lim)