TURNOVER at pre-NATAS fairs over the last two weekends grew by 25 to 30 per cent over 2011, taking major travel agencies here by surprise.
The latest jump in bookings is a welcome development, given the somewhat muted performance in the second quarter and at the pre-NATAS sales at the beginning of the year (TTG Asia e-Daily, February 16, 2012).
According to travel consultants whom TTG Asia e-Daily spoke to, Europe has leapt ahead to become the leading destination for Singapore holidaymakers.
ASA Holidays' head of marketing communications, Eileen Oh, said: “Singaporeans, being bargain hunters, tend to head where currency rates are favourable. We have seen a strong surge in the number of bookings to Europe (at our pre-NATAS fair) due to the all-time low euro against the Singapore dollar.”
Alicia Seah, CTC Travel’s senior vice-president of marketing & public relations, remarked that the rise of “affluent, experienced travellers” was another key factor driving the spike in demand for Europe.
“Having visited regional destinations, these (well-off) travellers are now looking for countries farther afield. Naturally, with the euro at a low, Europe has become the natural choice, particularly Spain and Portugal, which are reporting cheaper prices owing to the eurozone crisis,” she explained.
However, Clifford Neo, managing director for Dynasty Travel, said it was difficult to predict if this upward trend would continue into 2013, given the economic uncertainty.
“We are delighted that bookings in July grew by over 100 per cent compared to the pre-NATAS fair we held in February. Of course, we hope that this will continue, but it is a matter of wait and see,” he said.
ASA Holidays' Oh was slightly more optimistic. “Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we should see an overall year-on-year sales growth of at least 20 per cent for 2012,” she said.
“In 2013, we feel that free-and-easy travel will continue to grow significantly, especially with additional new and/or direct routes to various destinations served by the low-cost carriers.”