After two-year hiatus, Singapore Travel Fair welcomes younger crowd, visitors opt for more ‘exotic’ destinations

After two-year hiatus, Singapore Travel Fair welcomes younger crowd, visitors opt for more ‘exotic’ destinations

SINGAPORE, 14 Aug – After a two-year hiatus, the National Association of Travel Agents in Singapore (Natas) opened at the Singapore Expo on Friday (12 Aug) to welcome crowds eager for “revenge travel”.

Travel agents at the Changi Convention and Exhibition Grounds said turnout was better than expected, although they observed some changes in travel preferences. For example, they see a trend of young people turning to agencies and signing up for tours.



Mr. Jeremiah Wong, Senior Marketing Communications Manager, Chan Brothers Travel, said: “Customers who are used to traveling ‘freedom’ also book tours with us, especially those who are traveling with their parents.”

Ms Michell Devina Ngan, marketing manager at Travel Corporation, said her company had also received applications from younger couples, possibly due to the need to ease travel restrictions. Mr. Shawn Patrick, 20, said it was his first time attending a travel fair. He usually travels freely. “I’m planning a trip for my parents,” he said. Despite rising costs, travelers are now more keen to opt for single-destination packages.

Retired businessman Steven Oh, 61, who recently returned from Thailand, said he was planning a trip to Australia or New Zealand around the end of the year.

After viewing several packages at the Natas show, he was less concerned about the rising cost of package tours, which tour operators said had risen by 20 per cent, largely due to the increase in the cost of air travel.

“I think now is a good time to revisit countries and have fun…Even if it costs more, I’d rather let the travel agent arrange everything for me and my wife so we can focus on relaxing,” Mr Oh added .

Despite the higher cost, he was one of several customers interviewed by TODAY who expressed their desire to travel.

Visitors at Singapore Expo Hall 5 at the Natas Expo in Changi on August 12, 2022. — Picture of the day

Tan Whye Ngee, a 60-year-old private hire car driver who booked a trip to Europe during the fair, said: “I believe the price is worth it, I don’t want to waste time.” Ms. Xu, 62, a former journalist, said she Don’t want to put off the trip any longer. “You can go, you can look, you have to go,” she quipped. She said she wanted to book a trip to Hokkaido, Japan, preferring a less crowded place due to concerns about Covid-19. Currently, China and Taiwan are closed to consumer leisure travel. Hong Kong imposed mandatory hotel quarantine on overseas arrivals, while South Korea recently introduced polymerase chain reaction testing for incoming travelers.

Others at the Natas show wanted more travel options, especially to Southeast Asian countries.

Kindergarten teacher Sarmiah Safrinah, 49, who hopes to travel this December, said she hadn’t seen much tourism in Indonesia from Thailand, Vietnam and Bali, adding that destinations such as South Korea and Japan were “more aggressively advertised”.

Vincent Toh, a 56-year-old retired aircraft engineer, also said the options were “limited and uninteresting” and wanted more freedom to travel.

People inquiring and signing up for tours at Natas travel fair on August 12, 2022. – picture of the day

Traveler demand has shifted, tourism agencies say

A total of 21 travel agencies participated in the fair, which runs until Sunday.

Most of the institutions interviewed by TODAY said volumes and number of deals were at or above expectations.

Ms Kelly Toh, head of marketing at Commonwealth Travel Services, pointed to the post-pandemic preference for exotic destinations and single-destination travel.

“Travelers are looking for relatively unusual places, such as Morocco and Turkey, compared to other, more traditional destinations,” she said.

People check out the sights of Europe at the Natas Expo on August 12, 2022. — Picture of the day

Mr Zane Neo, PR Coordinator at LGE travel, noticed that many people showed up at the show with a clear idea of ​​where they wanted to go and confirmed travel arrangements in “as soon as five minutes”. Although travel agencies are generally a sunset industry, Mr Neo said his company tried to meet customer demand by “doing bespoke tours with more flexibility in the itinerary to suit the client’s preferred destination”.

A search of this year’s YouGov Global Travel Fact Sheet on March 11 revealed that 46 per cent of Singapore residents planned to take a holiday, business trip or other overseas trip in the next 12 months, compared to 41 per cent last year. The percentage of residents who do not intend to travel during this period is 40%, compared to 42% in 2021. – today

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