S'poreans going ahead with travel plans, say agencies

Many people from Singapore are not changing their travel plans despite Britain's terror threat level being raised from severe to critical, prospective travellers told The Straits Times.

Travel agencies also said it is business as usual as tour bookings to Britain have not been postponed or cancelled despite the higher terror threat level.

Students in Britain said security has been tighter after two attacks this year, but they will be going ahead with their plans.

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May warned that another terror attack "may be imminent", and raised the country's terror threat level.

This came after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert in Manchester on Monday. The last time the threat level for Britain was raised to critical was in 2007.

Travel agencies Chan Brothers and SA Tours said they have not received calls from concerned customers, and demand remains the same.

Still, Dynasty Travel's marketing communications director Alicia Seah said the company is likely to receive fewer new bookings to Britain over the next fortnight.

However, she added that demand will recover quickly due to the June holiday season and the emergence of a "carry on as per normal" attitude among customers.

Ms Sue-Ann Tan, 23, who is currently on a two-week graduation trip in Britain, said terrorism has always been a considerable concern for her.

She excluded popular tourist spots from her itinerary because of the Westminster attack. Otherwise, her travel plans remain unchanged. "I am already here, so I don't have much of a choice but to continue and see how things go," said Ms Tan.

Pastor Leslie Chua, 54, said he would postpone a trip to Manchester if it were for leisure, in the light of the heightened terror threat level.

But he is going ahead with his visit to the city because of his daughter's graduation ceremony there in July.

Some people are also not letting the terror threat affect their work plans. The general manager of NCC Education's Singapore branch, Mr Allan Norton, 49, intends to travel to Manchester in July for work in his company's head office.

"While saddened by the events of this week, I am not letting such instances impact my life and business. It is important that we remain strong," he said

In response to queries, the Ministry of Education said the safety and security of students and staff are of "paramount importance".

"We are monitoring the situation in (Britain) closely and schools are reviewing their planned trips. Where necessary, schools will delay or call off the trips," said the ministry.

Singapore Management University said its students, who are in Britain on exchange programmes, are safe.

Ms Dulcena Yen, a Singaporean student at the University of Manchester, said the mood is more gloomy and security is "definitely tighter" in the city.

She is a fourth-year medical student in one of the hospitals that treated casualties from Monday's terror attack. "It is more chaotic than usual, but the medical staff are very experienced," said Ms Yen, 24.

Two big events - the Great CityGames and Great Manchester Run - will still take place in Manchester this weekend, she noted. "Security will be a lot tighter than usual, and we all hope that this will be only a one-time incident that will make people more aware of their surroundings," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline 'S'poreans going ahead with travel plans, say agencies'. Print Edition | Subscribe