Natas fair postponed to May as low turnout expected following coronavirus outbreak

National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) exhibition has been postponed to May due to concerns over expected turnout. PHOTO: ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - The tourism industry has been dealt another blow with the postponement of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) exhibition, scheduled for this month.

One of the largest consumer travel fairs in Singapore, the Natas Travel 2020, set to take place from Feb 21 to 23, has now been shifted to May 1 to 3.

Exhibitors were concerned over the expected turnout for the fair, Natas president Steven Ler said in a statement. This follows China's coronavirus outbreak last month.

Natas is considering holding a smaller fair in February based on interest level, the statement added.

On whether refunds will be provided to participating vendors, a Natas spokesman said: "Decisions made by the association is according to its contract's terms and conditions."

Natas usually organises two fairs annually, Travel in Feb or March and Holidays in the second half of the year, drawing crowds of more than 110,000 each year.

Mr William Wong, 59, a tour guide who hosts visitors in Singapore and also tour groups in Asia, said postponing the exhibition could mean a drop in travellers over this period.

He said many deals for the March and June holidays are made during the Natas Travel exhibition.

Mr Wong said in Mandarin: "The exhibition is the easiest way for travellers to find trips and make comparisons. But with many afraid of crowds, there will be fewer customers."

Even if the fair returns in May, it could take a while for the industry to pick up, he said.

"This news affects the mood for travelling. Even when the virus fades, some will take time to respond, while they monitor if it is truly safe to travel again."

Another travel event affected by the coronavirus is Travel Revolution.

Its president, Ms Kay Swee Pin, told The New Paper yesterday that the decision to hold this year's fair in the second half of the year worked in its favour.

It would have had to cancel the fair if it had decided to hold the event in the first half of the year given the outbreak, she added.


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