More Singaporeans opting for self-drive holidays

Visitors at Chan Brothers' booth at the recent Natas Holidays fair. The agency says the number of bookings for self-drive holidays so far this year has risen 30 per cent over last year's figure.
Visitors at Chan Brothers' booth at the recent Natas Holidays fair. The agency says the number of bookings for self-drive holidays so far this year has risen 30 per cent over last year's figure.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Agencies cite access to GPS as main reason for growing demand

Weary of group tours that require them to follow a fixed itinerary, more Singaporeans are choosing to drive when they go on overseas holidays.

Travel agencies say bookings and enquiries for self-driving tours have gone up by 10 to 30 per cent year on year, with well-travelled Singaporeans eager for new experiences.

The agencies, in turn, are coming up with more customisable itineraries and new routes for these travellers.

While such a mode of travelling is not new, it is drawing more interest. So far this year, CTC Travel has received 35 per cent more customer queries on self-driving tours, compared with the same period last year.

The agency started a booth dedicated to self-driving tours at last weekend's Natas Holidays travel fair, the first time it has done so.

Its vice-president of marketing, Ms Sylvia Tan, attributed the growth to the greater accessibility of the Global Positioning System (GPS), a navigation tool which lessens the worry of getting lost in a foreign place.

While evergreen road-trip destinations are Australia and New Zealand, travel agencies have expanded into Kyushu, Okinawa and Hokkaido in Japan, Jeju Island in South Korea and the outskirts of London in Britain.

A five-day, self-drive package in Okinawa, which includes air tickets, car rental, basic car insurance and GPS, costs upwards of $598 at CTC Travel.

Chan Brothers Travel - which saw a 30 per cent rise in self-drive bookings so far this year compared with the same period last year - launched two new routes in Australia this year.

Customers can choose to go free and easy or in convoys of between 10 and 15 cars, led by a guide.

The agencies offer customisable packages which include air tickets, vehicle rental and accommodation at each pit stop.

These tours are popular with young couples on honeymoon and multi-generation families with young children or the elderly in tow, said Chan Brothers Travel marketing communications manager Jeremiah Wong.

Mr G. Tseng, 50, who works in the hospitality industry, said he likes the independence and flexibility offered by road trips.

"I get to see a lot more. It's unlike a tour with fixed routes and fixed stops," he said. "But it requires advance planning - you have to be aware of the speed limits and where the gas stations are."

mellinjm@sph.com.sg