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Singapore’s recession worse than first thought as virus slams Asia’s exporters

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s recession was deeper than first estimated in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic dealt a major blow to Asia’s trade-reliant economies.

The city-state has been hit hard by COVID-19 with the country under a lockdown for most of the second quarter to curb the spread of the virus.

“There continues to be significant uncertainty over how the COVID-19 situation will evolve in the coming quarters, and correspondingly, the trajectory of the economic recovery in both the global and domestic economies,” Gabriel Lim, permanent secretary for trade and industry, told a briefing.

“The outlook for the Singapore economy has weakened slightly since May.”

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell a record 13.2% year-on-year in the second quarter, revised government data showed on Tuesday, versus the 12.6% drop seen in advance estimates.

The economy fell 42.9% from the previous three months on an annualised and seasonally adjusted basis, also a record and larger than the 41.2% contraction in the government’s initial estimates.

The data matched analyst expectations.

The government said it now expects full-year GDP to contract between 5% and 7% versus its previous forecast for a 4% to 7% decline. The transport and tourism hub is still facing the biggest downturn in its history.

“The downgrade in second quarter and full-year GDP growth points to a slower and sluggish economic recovery,” said Chua Hak Bin, an economist at Maybank.

He said strict border controls, social distancing rules and foreign worker shortages will weigh on the pace of the recovery, even though lockdown measures have been relaxed.

The GDP slump marked the second consecutive quarter of contraction for the global finance hub – having declined 0.3% year-on-year in the first quarter and 3.1% quarter-on-quarter – meeting the definition for a technical recession.

Singapore’s data comes as other large Asian economies such as Japan are also set to report a record contraction in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s exports extended double digit declines in the first week of August.

Economies were starting re-tighten measures after the fresh emergence of outbreaks, said Selena Ling, OCBC Bank’s head of treasury research and strategy.

“That is going to dampen, if not potentially kill off, any of the recovery hopes that people were looking forward to,” she said.

Singapore’s central bank had eased its monetary policy in March, while the government has pumped in nearly S$100 billion ($72 billion) worth of stimulus to blunt the impact of the pandemic.

Reporting and photo: Reuters

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Maldives celebrates arrival of 2024’s 1 millionth tourist

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Maldives on Thursday welcomed the one millionth tourist to visit this year.

The one millionth tourist is a Thai named Sutapa Amonwivat, who arrived from Singapore with her husband and two children. This is her second visit to Maldives.

Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and the Ministry of Tourism gave a warm welcome to Sutapa at the Velana International Airport (VIA) Thursday afternoon. She was welcomed at the VIA by tourism minister Ibrahim Faisal, MMPRC Managing Director Ibrahim Shiury and senior officials of various relevant agencies.

After welcoming her with traditional offerings, she was presented with various gifts by the ministry, MMPRC, customs, immigration, Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

Maldives reached one million tourists in June, three weeks earlier than last year. The number of tourists reached one million on July 16, 2023.

Maldives expects to reach 2 million tourists this year.

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New air route connects Chongqing to Maldives

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Chongqing Airlines on Monday began its inaugural flights to Maldives.

The Chongqing-Male route, scheduled three times a week, is expected to strengthen the bonds between China and the Maldives, opening up exciting new opportunities for tourism and cultural exchange.

The inaugural flight was welcomed upon its arrival at Velana International Airport (VIA) in Maldives, where local officials and tourism representatives expressed their enthusiasm for this new development.

“We warmly welcome our friends from China to our beautiful islands. This new connection strengthens our bonds and opens up new opportunities for tourism,” the tourism ministry said on X.

Maldives currently welcomes four airlines from China, including China Eastern, Beijing Capital Airlines, Xiamen Airlines.

In January, Maldives government urged tourism stakeholders in both Maldives and China to ramp up efforts to restore China’s position as the primary source market for Maldives tourism, a status held before the onset of Covid-19.

China, being the largest source market for Maldives tourism before the pandemic, saw a resumption of tourist arrivals from January 2023 after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. In 2023, the Maldives welcomed 187,118 Chinese tourists, marking a significant recovery in numbers. This year, the Maldives has welcomed the most number of tourists from China, with over 107,940 or 11.5 percent of total arrivals by June 12. 

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CROSSROADS Maldives Introduces Weixin Pay at resorts for seamless guest experience

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CROSSROADS Maldives has introduced WeChat Pay, widely known as Weixin Pay in China, across its world-class resorts, SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, and Hard Rock Hotel Maldives. This payment option is made available to enhance the convenience and overall experience for guests from China, making their stay in the Maldives more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Understanding the needs of the diverse guests, CROSSROADS Maldives has integrated WeChat Pay into operations, allowing guests from China to easily and securely conduct transactions using a payment method familiar to them. The introduction of WeChat Pay is a testament to CROSSROADS Maldives’ dedication to enhancing guest satisfaction by offering exceptional experiences at every turn. What is also expected through this initiative is that the guests could benefit from better foreign exchange rates, translating to better savings on their expenditures during their stay.

The option is available for guests in-house conveniently at both resorts as well as across the Marina at CROSSROADS Maldives where a wider variety of unparalleled dining and retail experiences are available for all guests. The day visitors from China will also therefore equally benefit from this new introduction at the Maldives’ premier multi-island integrated leisure destination.

SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, is a vibrant tropical escape that offers unique and locally inspired experiences. The resort features spacious rooms and villas, a variety of dining options, and an array of recreational activities designed to cater to the desires of modern travellers. Guests can escape to the island’s SAiisational natural beauty, enjoy water sports, and indulge in spa treatments, all while relishing the personalised service that defines Hilton’s Curio Collection.

Hard Rock Hotel Maldives brings the iconic Hard Rock spirit to the tranquil shores of the Maldives. This family-friendly resort offers a perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment, featuring music-inspired experiences, live performances, and the brand’s signature amenities. With luxurious accommodations, diverse dining options, and a plethora of activities for all ages, Hard Rock Hotel Maldives ensures an unforgettable holiday experience for every guest.

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