With tourist arrivals increasing and room supply limited, hotel operators plan to bump up rates by as much as 10 per cent this year - on top of a 20 per cent rise last year.

Singapore- Growing numbers of tourists to Singapore and expectations of room supply shortages have hotel operators planning rate hikes of up to 10 per cent this year after lagging behind other Asian cities, a published report said on Saturday. "There is an increased focus on the competitiveness of hotel room rates relative to other Asian cities," The Business Times quoted Pan Pacific Singapore spokeswoman Cheryl Ng as saying. "This has helped to pave the way for market expectations to adjust upwards."

Room rates climbed 15 to 20 per cent in 2006, according to the newspaper's check of hotels, and are set to go up a further 7 to 10 per cent this year.

Figures from the Singapore Tourism Board show the average room rate went from 130 Singapore dollars (85 US dollars) in December 2005 to 176 Singapore dollars (115 US) in November 2006.

The city-state welcomed more than 9 million visitors last year, setting a new record. Hoteliers expressed confidence that the momentum can be maintained although there are no major events planned in 2007 on the scale of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings last September.

There is concern that once Singapore's first two casino resorts are completed in 2009 and 2010 with their more than 4,000 rooms, there could be an oversupply of rooms.

"We have to ensure that tourist arrivals increase correspondingly," said Charlene Chang, marketing director for the five-star Shangri-La.

"This can be achieved with new, exciting attractions and bigger meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions," she told the newspaper.

Increasing tourism arrivals to 17 million by 2015 is a major part of the city-state's drive to diversify away from manufacturing and boosting its share of visitors.

The casinos and other attractions are aimed at shedding Singapore's clean but strait-laced image.