Marina Bay Sands Shows Tour Groups the Door, Cites Crowded Common Areas

Posted on: March 20, 2024, 12:25h. 

Last updated on: March 20, 2024, 12:16h.

Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is politely asking tour groups to stop congregating in its common areas.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore group tour
A group tour from China poses in front of Marina Bay Sands. The integrated resort casino has told tour leaders to stop assembling inside its property and instead gather outside. (Image: Xinhua News)

Marina Bay Sands issued a notice to its industry partners last week. It advised them of an operational change to the property that’s long been considered the gold standard of the integrated resort industry. The resort statement explained that it’s introduced measures to facilitate access for guides who bring large groups of travelers to the destination.

Effective immediately, groups are no longer permitted to gather anywhere inside the resort’s buildings. Guides are prohibited from using handheld signs, flags, or portable microphones, and group briefings are no longer allowed indoors.

Marina Bay Sands is owned and operated by Las Vegas Sands. The casino is one of the world’s richest gaming facilities, and its iconic three-tower structure and connecting skyway is one of the most-photographed destinations on the planet.

Guest Experience Reigns Supreme

Marina Bay Sands is the global leader in the IR industry. Sands wants to keep it that way. But company officials say tour groups have recently congested public areas, and presumably, dampened the guest experience for individual travelers.

Marina Bay Sands published the refreshed guidelines on the Singapore Tourism Board’s website, explaining that the updated rules are to “minimize disruptions to operations and the experience of other guests.”

The statement said groups should brief their guests on their coach buses before arrival or at designated exterior public areas. Loitering anywhere is prohibited.

Tour groups should not loiter on the property, including in the Hotel Lobby, Sands Expo & Convention Center, or The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands,” the release added. “Groups visiting the SkyPark Observation Deck should proceed to the exterior of Tower 3 and avoid going through the Hotel Lobby.”

The immersive property is one of the largest integrated resort casinos on the planet. It has 2,600 guest rooms and a sprawling luxury shopping mall. Marina Bay Sands already has tens of thousands of daily visitors aside from guests sightseeing the property as part of a group.  

Marina Bay Sands last year generated net revenue of nearly $3.85 billion, the largest among the company’s portfolio, which includes five other IRs in Macau. Marina Bay Sands’ earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) totaled more than $1.86 billion.

“Marina Bay Sands once again delivered outstanding levels of financial and operating performance,” Sands Chair and CEO Robert Goldstein said during the company’s 2023 fourth-quarter earnings call on January 24. “Our new suite product and elevated service offerings position us well as airlift capacity continues to improve and the recovery in travel and tourism spending from China and the wider region continues to advance.”

Sands might be smart to restrain some of its comments on China, as the People’s Republic reminded its citizens this week that gambling overseas violates Chinese law.

Tourism Rebound

After a prolonged pandemic where the Singaporean government kept its city-state isolated from the rest of the world until early 2023, the Singapore Tourism Board says visitation has recovered.

Last year, Singapore counted about 16.5 million visitors, a 101% year-over-year rebound. About 12.4 million stayed overnight, with the average stay nearly four days.

However, those numbers remain below the 19 million people who visited in 2019, with 14.5 million overnight visitors. The 2019 stays were a bit shorter at an average of 3.4 days.

Singapore hotels have naturally benefited from the return of visitors. The average nightly room rate climbed 12% to S$280 (US$209) with occupancy rates up to 80%. In 2019, the average room went for S$221 (US$165) with an average occupancy rate of 87%.