SINGAPORE: Singapore tourism fell 13 percent in March as a global recession undermined travel, another blow to the Southeast Asian city-state which is reeling from its worst economic downturn on record.

Tourist arrivals dropped to 790,000 in March from 911,000 in the same month a year earlier, the Singapore Tourism Board said Thursday. Arrivals fell 15 percent in February from a year earlier and 13 percent in January.

The government also reported that the inflation rate fell as transportation costs eased. The consumer price index rose 1.6 percent in the 12 months through March, down from a 1.9 percent rise in the 12 months to February, the statistics department said.

Singapore's tourism industry had a dismal first quarter along with the country's manufacturing and financial sectors.

The government expects the economy to contract as much as 9 percent this year.

Gross domestic product shrank a seasonally adjusted, annualised 19.7 percent in the first quarter from the previous quarter, the worst contraction since independence from Malaysia in 1965.

Hotel revenue fell 33 percent last month to 125 million Singapore dollars ($83 million) and the occupancy rate slid to 74 percent, down from 87 percent in January 2008, the board said.

Tourist income will likely fall to between S$12 billion and S$12.5 billion this year from S$14.8 billion last year, the board said in February. The board expects tourist arrivals to drop to between 9 million and 9.5 million in 2009 from 10.1 million in 2008.

Consumer prices fell 0.4 percent in March from February as housing slid 1.7 percent and transport and communication dropped 0.6 percent. Inflation has slowed from a 26-year high in June of 7.5 percent.

The government expects prices to fall as much as 1 percent this year.