SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Although there are more than 13 million Covid-19 cases worldwide with over 570,000 dead because of the disease, travel agencies here are still seeing customers keen on travelling in December and next year.
Dynasty Travel's communications director, Ms Alicia Seah, told The New Paper last Thursday (July 9) that it has had more than 200 inquiries to nearby destinations such as Thailand, Japan, and China over the past two months.
Ms Seah said most travellers are opting for private group tours and want to stay in less crowded resorts.
She added: "Once travel restrictions are lifted, we will launch overseas tours."
The managing director of EU Asia Holidays, Mr Ong Hanjie, said since the beginning of phase two, it has been getting about three to five inquiries daily from customers for travels at the end of this year.
Top destinations include Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.
A Chan Brothers Travel's spokesman said it has been getting daily inquiries over the past month as well.
AirAsia said it has seen a 47 per cent growth in flight searches to cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang since the start of the circuit breaker.
Mr Kenneth Lim, director of travel agents and tourist guides at the Singapore Tourism Board, told TNP that 12 travel agents had ceased operations between Feb 1 and June 30.
Six of them folded due to Covid-19, he said, while the rest cited reasons such as a change in business focus and retirement.
All 12 cessations did not affect consumers.
Mr Lim added that for the same period last year, there were 28 cessations.
Meanwhile, hotels said they see this period of no international travel as an opportunity to improve business.
Chief executive of Far East Hospitality, Mr Arthur Kiong, said that while depending on staycations alone was not sustainable, it was still a lifeline for hotels as they prepare for recovery post-Covid.
The chief sales and marketing officer at Pan Pacific Hotels Group, Ms Cinn Tan, said it is offering staycation packages at discounted rates.
But holidaymakers should be cautious.
Associate Professor Alex Cook, vice-dean of research at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, warned against visiting countries with a high number of Covid-19 cases.
He said: "I would avoid travelling to high-incidence countries such as the United States or the United Kingdom for the time being."
Mr Cook said going to countries with relatively low cases does not mean the risk is lower either.
"You may spend more time in public places like restaurants and therefore be exposed to more risk of infection."