More staycation bookings for SG50 long weekend

Hotels, retailers offer special deals; events galore for residents

While the extra public holiday on Aug 7 has got some talking about going away during the Golden Jubilee long weekend, others are making plans to celebrate the occasion by spending time with their loved ones in Singapore.

Hotels are seeing more staycation bookings and inquiries. This is encouraging, they said, as such inquiries and bookings usually occur two to four weeks before a long weekend.

Some are also rolling out special deals, and campaigns related to the Singapore story.

As of Wednesday, at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, bookings made for the National Day weekend were more than double those made at the same time last year - mostly due to local demand. Orchard Hotel Singapore is 25 per cent booked for the long weekend, with half of them being staycations.

Inquiries for staycations at Resorts World Sentosa have grown by 10 per cent. Accor Singapore is planning a special package.

Park Hotel Group plans a social media campaign to celebrate SG50. It will invite people to take part in quizzes to identify Singapore's icons. Those who correctly identify the most number of symbols stand to win prizes, including free hotel stays.

The extra holiday falls on a Friday. With Monday already a holiday since National Day - Aug 9 - falls on a Sunday this year, it will be a four-day long weekend.

A day after the declaration was made, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob appealed to Singaporeans to "celebrate together as a nation" and not use the break to travel abroad.

Retailers and food and beverage operators have come up with discounts or special deals for the long weekend.

Chinese restaurant Hua Ting is serving up a $50 six-course SG50 lunch menu, while Ya Kun Kaya Toast will launch a surprise local dish for that weekend.

Accessories chain Colette will be rolling out four days of promotions, and Spa Esprit's Brazilian waxes, men's haircuts and hour-long massages will each be priced at $50 during those four days.

Those staying put in Singapore will be spoilt for choice with events and activities organised specially to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. Picnics will be held at the Marina Barrage, where visitors can also catch aerial performances by the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Black Knights team.

Attractions such as the Jurong Bird Park, the two conservatories at Gardens by the Bay, and the Science Centre are offering free or discounted admission during that period. All museums will also remain open during the four days.

Such deals are attractive to receptionist Maureen Lau, 48, who plans to spend her long weekend in Singapore. Said the mother of two: "It's a good chance to visit the attractions, and relax... I'm Singaporean and... SG50 is quite a special event to me."

As for those who are going away, short-haul destinations such as Vietnam and Thailand are top picks, said a Natas spokesman. Its members have seen up to 20 per cent more bookings compared to last year.

Ms Felicia Toh, 24, is looking for a good travel deal. "I don't think I'm being unpatriotic. As a young working adult, long weekends like these are hard to come by," said the videographer. "It just means I finally get a chance to travel with my friends."

But for Ms Doreen Cheah, 53, the long weekend is special. The senior manager in the travel industry said: "SG50 comes only once. I want to stay at home and spend time with my family."

Additional reporting by Miranda Yeo