Natas travel fair dates brought forward, won't clash with rival fair

Visitors thronging the various booths during a National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) Travel Fair held at the Singapore Expo. The association said it would be bringing forward its fair next year to March 6-8. -- PHOTO: NATAS
Visitors thronging the various booths during a National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) Travel Fair held at the Singapore Expo. The association said it would be bringing forward its fair next year to March 6-8. -- PHOTO: NATAS

SINGAPORE - The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) will be holding its next travel fair earlier, so that it will not clash with a rival fair.

The Natas fair will take place on the weekend of March 6 to 8 at the Singapore Expo, three weeks earlier than previously announced, according to a circular sent out to its members on Monday.

The circular noted that despite "significant adjustments" by Natas, the other party is still going ahead with its separate fair.

"Natas believes the above dates and venue to be most suitable for exhibitors and consumers alike. It will take place immediately after the 15th day of Chinese New Year and the weekend just before the March school holidays," it said.

"This opens the window for last minute school holiday tour bookings."

A Natas spokesman confirmed that the dates have been moved forward and said Natas will hold a press conference in the next few days.

Last Tuesday, 24 travel agencies announced their decision to opt out of the Natas fair and hold their own fair from March 27 to 29 - the original dates of the Natas fair. These included heavyweights such as Dynasty Travel, SA Tours, CTC Travel and Chan Brothers Travel.

Representatives of the agencies said several issues, such as a lack of transparency by Natas, had led to the pull out.

The following Thursday, Natas made some concessions. Both its travel fairs next year will have free admission, lower booth rental charges and better publicity.

But the group of agencies said it will still go ahead with their event, the Outbound Travel Fair, at The Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

Speaking on behalf of the working committee, Dynasty Travel's director of marketing communications Alicia Seah said on Tuesday that Natas had not taken any initiatives to address the issues in the past few years.

"Only in recent weeks did they make a few baby moves, when these issues are not new," she said.

"And they only did so under the pressure of the Outbound Travel Fair, so their sincerity in the long run is in doubt."