24 travel agencies pull out of next March's Natas travel fair

The 24 agencies have confirmed that they will hold an outbound travel fair with free admission at Marina Bay Sands from March 27 to 29 next year. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The 24 agencies have confirmed that they will hold an outbound travel fair with free admission at Marina Bay Sands from March 27 to 29 next year. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More travel agencies have opted out of an upcoming Natas travel fair next March and are organising a separate fair on the same dates.

A total of 24 outbound travel agencies have confirmed that they will be holding a fair with free admission at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) from March 27 to 29 next year.

This group of agencies contributed to 80 per cent of the total sales at previous Natas fairs.

Besides the "Big Four" agencies - CTC Travel, Dynasty Travel, Chan Brothers Travel and SA Tours - other agencies include Apple Holidays, Nam Ho Travel and Farmosa Holidays.

At a media conference held at MBS on Tuesday morning, representatives of the agencies said several issues, such as the lack of transparency by the National Association of Travel Agencies Singapore (Natas), had led to the pull out.

Natas has been organising the biannual fair for more than 20 years.

The agencies said they were unhappy with the rental costs that Natas charges exhibitors, the fair's $4 admission fee and the "lacklustre" event publicity. There was also no evident efforts by Natas to counter falling visitorship and sales, they added.

Natas also refused to share the breakdown of how proceeds from the fairs are used, they said. The agencies had also proposed a travel fair organising committee made up of travel agency exhibitors, but Natas was not willing to give them decision-making powers, they added.

A petition by 17 agencies highlighting some of these points was sent to Natas on Oct 13, but there were no constructive response from the association, they said.

The fair, tentatively named Outbound Travel Fair, will take up 17,000 sq m of space at MBS, about 70 per cent of the floor area of the Natas travel fair next March, which is expected to be held at Expo.