More Singaporeans are making use of the two long festive weekends to take an extended holiday overseas compared with last year, say travel industry players.
The final two weeks of last year also had long weekends.
"Many people are taking trips lasting from seven to 14 days to take advantage of the long weekends and festive holidays," said Dynasty Travel's director of marketing communications, Ms Alicia Seah.
"Travellers are opting for wintry holidays in Europe and Japan to soak in the festive celebrations and enjoy a white Christmas."
Her travel agency has seen an increase of about 10 per cent in people going to Japan, said Ms Seah, who attributed the larger number to more direct flights to Hokkaido and Okinawa by full-service airlines and low-cost carriers.
Chan Brothers Travel, too, has seen more bookings to faraway destinations.
"The demand for travel to Europe in December has doubled compared to the same period last year, including for Northern Lights tours," its marketing communications executive, Ms Justine Koh, told The Straits Times. Other top destinations are Japan and Australia.
As for bookings to exotic destinations such as Turkey, Egypt, Dubai and Bhutan, the number has gone up by around three to four times, Ms Koh said. This could be due to travellers' increased awareness of these places and ramped-up marketing efforts by the destinations, she added.
Even smaller travel outfits say they are seeing more customers.
Quotient TravelPlanner's co-founder Lim Hui Juan said her firm, which receives about 200 bookings a year, has seen about 45 per cent more clients during this period compared with last year, with some going to as far as South Africa.
At Brand Expedia, its regional head of communications, Ms Lavinia Rajaram, said the agency saw more people looking for flights to cities closer to home such as Kuala Lumpur and Manila for the New Year. It does not have data for the Christmas weekend, she added.
For some Singaporeans, the holiday has already started. Mr Loo King Keong, 57, his wife and their three children arrived in Hong Kong yesterday for a seven-day break, thanks to the long weekends.
"You can do a lot more things," said Mr Loo, an architect. The family is looking forward to activities other than shopping and eating.
"Hiking is an interesting thing to do," he said. "We thought that this would be a good time to see a side of Hong Kong that's not so built-up."