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Singapore welcomes its 8 millionth visitor

Housewife Tomika Kondo, 62, from Nagoya, Japan, became Singapore`s eight millionth visitor…

Housewife Tomika Kondo, 62, from Nagoya, Japan, became Singapore`s eight millionth visitor. Travelling with her husband, Mr Satoshi Kondo, 66, Mrs Kondo touched down in Singapore at approximately 3.55 pm on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 981 to a surprise red-carpet welcome by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

Greeted at Terminal 2 by the rousing beat of ethnic drums, Mrs Kondo was presented with an orchid garland before being accompanied by a procession of colourful ethnic dancers on stage to receive her prizes.

The mother of two will enjoy a complimentary stay at the Raffles Hotel`s luxurious suite, as well as personalised guided visits to various top Singapore attractions such as Sentosa, Underwater World, Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari as well as a ride on board the HiPPO bus to view the spectacular Christmas Light-up along Orchard Road. She can also look forward to complimentary spa treatments at The Spa Botanica and a health screening package by Parkway Group Healthcare, in addition to shopping vouchers for use at Wisma Atria and Sincere Watch Limited. Mrs Kondo and her husband, a retiree, will also have a tourist guide and a limousine service at their disposal throughout their four-day stay here.

Mrs Kondo also won a return trip for two to Singapore, with two business-class tickets on Singapore Airlines, three nights` accommodation at The Sentosa Resort and Spa, as well as a 4-day/3-night cruise on board the Superstar Virgo. This return trip to Singapore can be taken anytime in 2005. The prizes are worth over S$30,000.

In addition, Mrs Kondo received a specially-commissioned ceramic art piece created by Singapore`s Cultural Medallion laureate and master potter Iskandar Jalil. This was presented to her at the airport this afternoon by Mr Gerald Lee, STB`s Assistant Chief Executive (Leisure).

Mr Lee said: The arrival of Singapore`s eight millionth visitor is a significant milestone for Singapore`s tourism industry. This historic achievement is a fitting way to end an excellent year which has seen the tourism industry scoring several key achievements, including exceeding STB`s 2004 target of 7.6 million visitors.

We sincerely welcome Mrs Kondo to Singapore and wish her a most memorable stay here. Mrs Kondo is among the more than 580,000 Japanese who have visited Singapore so far this year. While visitor numbers from Japan have yet to recover completely to match 2002 levels, Japanese visitor arrivals from January to November 2004 have grown by 41% compared to the same period in 2003. Japan remains an important market for us and we are confident that Japan will continue to feature among our top 5 markets this year, he added.

Singapore welcomed 723,431 Japanese visitors in 2002, making Japan the second largest visitor-generating market that year. In 2003, Japan formed the fourth largest visitor-generating market, with 434,064 visitors.

This is the second visit to Singapore for the Kondos. The couple first visited Singapore with their son and daughter in April 2002.

Said Mrs Kondo in Japanese: This is an incredible surprise! I am so pleased to be in Singapore once again and I`m really looking forward to catching the attractions which I missed the first time around, such as the Dolphin Lagoon in Sentosa and the National Orchid Garden.

Visitor arrivals hit the four million mark in 1988, the five million mark in 1990, the six million mark in 1993, and the seven million mark in 1995.

The STB exceeded its target of 7.6 million target for 2004, bolstered by the strong arrival figures in November. Some 752,521 visitors came to Singapore in November, the second highest monthly visitor arrivals in Singapore`s history. November`s visitor arrivals represent a 28% growth over the 588,742 visitor arrivals figure for November 2002 (and an 18% increase over November 2003). The highest monthly visitor arrivals were registered in July 2004, when Singapore hosted 802,283 visitors.