Global terrorism threats and a weak economic sentiment may have cast a pall over the tourism industry, but travel agencies are cautiously optimistic that Singaporeans will continue to spend at two upcoming travel fairs.
The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) Travel Fair will take place at Singapore Expo Hall 3 from Friday to Sunday. It will have 67 exhibitors, of which 22 are travel agencies.
The 49th edition of the fair will include a food and wine fair, and a lucky draw. Also, nurses from Tan Tock Seng Hospital will provide advice on travel vaccination.
The fourth Travel Revolution fair, organised by the Singapore Outbound Travel Agents Association (Sotaa), will be held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre from Aug 19 to 21. The 61 exhibitors include 33 travel agencies.
Admission to both fairs is free.
Sotaa was formed in May last year by 25 agencies that pulled out of Natas' twice-yearly fairs to organise their own event, Travel Revolution.
• New Zealand
• South Korea
They included major players Chan Brothers Travel, CTC Travel and Dynasty Travel, which cited issues with previous fairs such as high rental rates and a lack of transparency.
The outlook for the industry is "challenging" given the spate of news on the weak economy and terrorist attacks, said a Sotaa spokesman. "That said, travel has long become an integral part of the lifestyle of Singaporeans who are known to be hardcore travellers, deft in adjusting their travel plans rather than forgoing them altogether."
Trending destinations include Australia and New Zealand, as security concerns in Europe drive Singaporeans Down Under.
Nordic countries such as Finland and Iceland are also hot destinations as this year is touted to be the last year to catch the Northern Lights before they diminish. The next peak of solar activity is not expected till 2025.
Many are also heading to Britain to take advantage of the falling pound following the Brexit vote.
Also popular are perennial favourites Japan and South Korea. The Japanese yen, though rising, is still relatively low compared to its heyday, while South Korea is fast rebounding after last year's Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) health scare. One Singapore dollar could buy about 76 yen yesterday, compared with 63.3 five years ago.
A Natas spokesman said that despite an uncertain global economic outlook, it anticipates growth in overseas travel as Singapore increases its flight connections.
It noted that there are new direct flights from Singapore to destinations such as Cairns and Canberra in Australia, Okinawa and Hokkaido in Japan (during the year end), Dusseldorf in Germany and San Francisco in the United States.