S'poreans out and about on first weekend after launch of vouchers

Visitors outside Universal Studios Singapore yesterday. Booking platforms told The Straits Times that they are seeing a healthy uptake across the board, in particular for visitor magnets like Gardens by the Bay and Universal Studios Singapore.
Visitors outside Universal Studios Singapore yesterday. Booking platforms told The Straits Times that they are seeing a healthy uptake across the board, in particular for visitor magnets like Gardens by the Bay and Universal Studios Singapore. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Singaporeans have mainly been cashing in their $100 SingapoRediscovers tourism vouchers on hotel staycations and tickets to local attractions since the scheme began last Tuesday.

Booking platforms told The Straits Times that they are seeing a healthy uptake across the board, in particular for visitor magnets like Gardens by the Bay and Universal Studios Singapore.

There were plenty of people out and about yesterday to make use of their vouchers at Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands SkyPark and popular spots on Sentosa island.

Student Kylie Chia, 22, and her boyfriend visited Gardens by the Bay and had only a "little bit of a wait" to enter the Flower Dome, which was not crowded.

"I was expecting a huge weekend crowd here but I was pleasantly surprised to still have loads of space to walk around and take photos. However, I will try to use the rest of my vouchers on a weekday in January instead, after the school holidays are over," Ms Chia said.

She bought a $20 ticket from Klook for Gardens by the Bay, which gave her access to the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and the Christmas Wonderland.

Engineer Ted Chiang, 39, and wife Eliza, 36, who runs a small business, went to booking platform GlobalTix to snag tickets for the SkyPark Observation Deck at Marina Bay Sands.

"Using the tourism vouchers was a great option - the tickets came up to $20 per head... Rather than being cooped up at home we decided to go out on a date, spend some time together and see the sights," Mr Chiang said.

There were many people flocking to Sentosa island, where Universal Studios Singapore and the S.E.A Aquarium are located.

Mr Lim Yew Li, 52, who works in construction, managed to snag combo tickets on Trip.com to visit both attractions with his wife and university-going daughter.

"The package cost us just under $100 per person, so it's really a free visit to these locations. We have been planning to visit Universal Studios for years but just hadn't found a good reason to until now," Mr Lim said, adding that the package he bought appeared sold out now.

Ms Pallavi Bajaj, 33, said getting tickets to visit the S.E.A. Aquarium with her husband Arjun Bajaj, 39, and her two-year-old daughter was a "treat". The couple, who bought $35 tickets on GlobalTix, plan to visit the Singapore Zoo next.

"We were a little nervous about weekend crowds for sure, and it being the school holidays, a little jostling is to be expected. But we really can't complain since we're pretty much getting an aquarium visit for free," Ms Bajaj, who is currently unemployed, said.

The Singapore Tourism Board said last Tuesday that the appointed booking platforms - Changi Recommends, GlobalTix, Traveloka, Trip.com and Klook - had received more than 11,900 bookings totalling about $1.86 million in vouchers and payments as at 4.30pm that day, leaving some offerings sold out by midday.

"There are many early adopters and the take-up rate is very encouraging," said Ms Carine Chew, head of outbound products at Changi Recommends. She added that the most-booked attractions included Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios Singapore and the Singapore Zoo.

"We have seen healthy demand across all sectors, and exclusive deals are performing better."

Mr Reza Amirul Juniarshah, head of corporate communications at Traveloka, said traffic on the platform has surged around 15-fold over normal periods since the vouchers were launched last Tuesday. "With families and couples longing for experiences and exploration of the city, attractions and hidden gem tours have been popular," he added.

Klook has also seen a "strong showing" from voucher users, said South-east Asia marketing director Sarah Wan.

"We have seen quite an even spread of booking across hotels, attractions and tours. Interestingly, we've also seen good traction for smaller tour operators such as City Tours, which runs the Captain Explorer DUKW Tour, and Tribe Tours, which runs the Chinatown Murders Game Tour and Singapore's Disappearing Trade Tour," Ms Wan noted.

280 products on offer via SingapoRediscovers voucher

The $100 in SingapoRediscovers tourism vouchers offer more than 280 products across the Changi Recommends, GlobalTix, Traveloka, Trip.com and Klook booking platforms.

Tickets to several tourist attractions such as Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios Singapore and the Singapore Zoo have been snapped up quickly.

Some packages - including combo bundles to Universal Studios and the S.E.A. Aquarium - were sold out on multiple booking portals as at yesterday.

Hotel staycations and local tours run by smaller operators are also proving popular, including the Captain Explorer DUKW Tour run by City Tours, which involves an amphibious vehicle zipping around the central city district.

The Chinatown Murders Game tour is also a popular pick as is Singapore's Disappearing Trade tour, both run by Tribe Tours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2020, with the headline 'S'poreans out and about on first weekend after launch of vouchers'. Print Edition | Subscribe