Cruises, tours to Europe, exotic places in demand

More than 81,000 people visited the Natas travel fair held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre over three days.
More than 81,000 people visited the Natas travel fair held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre over three days.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

What travellers want this year: cruises, tours to Europe and exotic destinations like Turkey and Egypt, and customised trips.

These travel packages were much in demand at the 51st National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) fair, which wrapped up yesterday, said major travel agencies at the event.

Hong Thai Travel said the trends are an extension of last year's.

European destinations high on travellers' lists include the Balkans, such as Croatia, where the HBO series Game Of Thrones was filmed. "Exotic destinations like Turkey and Egypt are popular choices for the year-end holidays too, as prices are lower than last year's with a difference of up to $300 per person," said Ms Stella Chow, a senior manager at Hong Thai's marketing department.

Dynasty Travel reported similar figures for its tour packages, with cruise travel growing at about 25 per cent year-on-year, said its director of public relations and communications Alicia Seah.

"There are also many couples and retirees who are booking their Chinese New Year holidays in advance," she said. Booking well in advance can attract lower airfares and special early-bird discounts.

Also drawing increased interest are customised tours to Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, where people can opt to travel in smaller groups of four to six, or even pairs, said Ms Seah.

Sales for these tours have grown by about 20 per cent year-on-year.

CTC Travel also said customised tours are growing in popularity this year, especially for families with young children and teenagers, as well as millennials, said CTC vice- president of marketing Sylvia Tan.

Manager Jim Tan, 54, booked an 11-day tour to Eastern Europe in October at the Natas fair for him and his wife. "We have already gone to Western Europe a few times, so we would like to explore the Eastern side," he said.

More than 81,000 people visited the fair held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre over three days, compared with 78,000 at the rival Travel Revolution fair, which ran from Aug 4 to 6 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo Halls.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2017, with the headline 'Cruises, tours to Europe, exotic places in demand'. Print Edition | Subscribe