Outbound traffic from Singapore shrank 1.3 per cent in the first five months of 2016 compared to the same period last year.
According to business management consultant GfK, the reduced traveller volume can be attributed to cutbacks on discretionary expenditure such as leisure travel, fueled by a weakening economy and uncertainty in the financial markets plus rising redundancy in job functions.
China remains the top destination for Singapore travellers but growth in arrivals has dipped to a mere 1.3 per cent. Meanwhile, Thailand maintains its runner-up position.
Of the top 10 destinations, only Indonesia reported double digit growth with a 10.8 per cent gain in arrivals, while Japan saw a significant 18.4 per cent drop.
Commenting on Japan's slow growth, Anthony Tan, APAC lead for travel and hospitality at GfK, said: “Despite continued efforts in marketing Japan, the recent earthquake has taken its toll."
Currency effects are keeping certain markets buoyant however, with Australia seeing a modest 1.2 per cent growth due to favourable exchange rates for the Singapore dollar.
Beyond the 10 most popular destinations, South Korea saw a 16 per cent increase in Singaporean arrivals, a trend that may be partially attributed to the appreciation of the Singapore dollar against the Korean won.
Data shows that South-east Asia is still the most travelled region for Singapore travellers with traditional beach holiday destinations like Phuket, Bali and Langkawi gaining in popularity versus those further afield.
GfK predicts leisure travel to continue facing strong headwinds in the second half of the year as market conditions remain tenuous.