Singaporean bookings for CNY getaways rise
By David Ee, The Straits Times/Asia News NetworkSINGAPORE -- Even as Singaporeans wake up to a sobering economic forecast for this year, many will not be letting it affect what has become their yearly tradition — a Chinese New Year vacation.
January 2, 2013, 12:38 am TWN
Travel agencies told The Straits Times that bookings are up about 15 percent over last year's festive period.
“Many Singaporeans consider travel a necessity,” said Eileen Oh, head of marketing and communications at ASA Holidays.
“When the economy is uncertain, they may choose to cut back on other things instead.”
Popular destinations remain unchanged: Japan, South Korea, China, Europe and Southeast Asia still top travelers' wish lists.
Agencies also attributed the brisk sales to the longer weekend: A nine-day holiday can be enjoyed by taking only three days of leave, as Chinese New Year falls on a Sunday.
ASA Holidays has sold about 80 percent of its group tours, and CTC Travels has filled 70 percent of its tours.
Valentine's Day falling within the same week as Chinese New Year has also lured lovebirds seeking a quick getaway.
As much as 80 percent of CTC Travels' bookings for that week have been taken up by couples both young and old, said its senior vice president of marketing and public relations, Alicia Seah.
Quek Chiew Guan, 54, is jetting off with his wife to Hunan, China, for nine days. They traveled to Beijing and Shanghai during previous Chinese New Year periods, and plan to head to South Korea next year.
The sign manufacturer, who said that he has been “relatively unaffected” by the slower growth last year, is escaping what he sees as a dampened Chinese New Year mood here.
“I just want to get away for the festive period. There's no mood here,” he said.
“In China (the celebration) is rich in history and culture. We get the chance to play with firecrackers too. It's something different that we can't experience here.”
But this wanderlust has not extended to everyone.
Two friends, sales executives Yun Liao, 24, and Leah Chung, 23, decided to put off their plans to travel to Krabi, Thailand, because of the high festive fares of between SG$300 and SG$400, more than double off-peak prices.
“I checked the flights yesterday, but it's not a promotional price. I thought it's not worth the money,” said Ms Chung.