SINGAPORE - The SingapoRediscovers voucher scheme got off to a strong start on Tuesday (Dec 1), with a flurry of online bookings leading some offerings to be sold out by midday.
As of 4.30pm, the five appointed booking platforms had received more than 11,900 bookings, totalling about $1.86 million in vouchers and payments, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said in a statement Tuesday night.
The $100 tourism vouchers credited to all adult Singaporeans have so far led to a good mix of bookings across hotels, attractions and tours, STB said, adding that there has been healthy interest in bundled packages.
Ms Angel Ho was among those who began browsing the offerings at midnight, when the five booking platforms - Changi Recommends, GlobalTix, Traveloka, Trip.com and Klook - went live with their voucher-applicable staycations, attraction tickets and tours.
Ms Ho, 32, said the multiple platforms made for a tedious search, although the redemption process was smooth.
She booked a package on GlobalTix for two adults and two children to visit the Singapore Zoo and River Safari, paying $60 after the $100 voucher discount.
"To me, $60 for my family of four to both parks is reasonable. Without the vouchers I doubt I would want to spend that much," said the logistics administrator.
While no major technical issues were reported on Tuesday, some said they had problems redeeming their vouchers.
Housewife Shin-Yu Tan said she tried to book tickets to Snow City for her family of four on Klook in the morning, but was met with an error message after applying the generated voucher code.
As her husband had already taken leave for their intended date, Mrs Tan, 33, ended up paying the full price of $86.20 for the tickets and glove rentals.
Klook said in response to queries that customers may have experienced difficulty completing their bookings as some popular activities had sold out.
Ms Sarah Wan, Klook's marketing director for South-east Asia, apologised to customers for the inconvenience, adding that Klook has been working with merchants to ensure that inventory is restocked as soon as possible.
"In fact, the majority of out-of-stock activities have already been topped up," she said.
More than 280 products are available for redemption across platforms, STB said yesterday, adding that more value-for-money deals will be rolled out over the next seven months.
While tour and attraction operators had expressed concern that a large part of the vouchers' worth would go toward staycations, the restriction against pooling vouchers for a single transaction ended up discouraging some consumers from picking this option.
Operations manager Caleb Tan, 48, said the staycation packages on offer were too expensive and that he would try to book holiday activities for his two children instead. "The $100 can barely cover half the cost of each night at a decent four to five star hotel," he said.
The $320 million SingapoRediscovers credit scheme meant to boost Singapore's tourism sector is the first national digital-only voucher programme to be rolled out by the Government.
Those who face difficulties navigating the online sites and are in need of assistance can visit any of the 69 physical counters set up across the island at community centres and other locations. The counters are provided by Changi Recommends, GlobalTix and Klook to assist with bookings on their own platforms.
Taxi driver Ng Beng Lam, 72, and his wife Ong Choon Hwa, 68, were first in line to make a booking at the Tampines East Community Centre on Tuesday morning, arriving an hour before the counters operated by Klook and UOB Travel Planners opened at 10am.
The couple booked tickets for the Sands SkyPark and Observation Deck at Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer, spending about half of their vouchers' worth.
"This is a chance for my family and I to visit the Singapore attractions after this tough year," said Mr Ng.
No rush to book at the physical counters was observed, with no more than 10 people seen visiting those at Tampines East Community Centre between 11am and noon. Staff at the Changi Recommends counters at Bedok Community Centre said they had seen about 10 visitors between 10am and 2pm, with one booking.
Some of the elderly visitors that The Straits Times spoke to opted not to make a booking, with some indicating that they thought the vouchers came in physical form.
Cleaner Pauline Woo, 68, said she found the redemption process "too complicated", despite the explanation from counter staff.
Mr Narayana Samy, 68, said he had hoped to use his vouchers on a staycation at a four- or five-star hotel, but was put off by room prices of $200 or more per night.
The retired international marketing manager for a golf company said that older folk may lean toward staycations as they may not be fit enough to go for attractions and tours, but the prices are a deterrent.
Bank employee Josh See said he plans to wait until the December school holidays are over before using his vouchers.
"I'll probably use them for attractions but I don't want to deal with the crowds. Plus the booking process sounds messy, so I'll let them work out the kinks first," said Mr See, 38.