Rival fairs see cruise as big business

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By Teresa Ooi

Singapore’s rival travel fair operators battled it out over last weekend – with at least one suffering a slight fall in attendance.

The NATAS Travel fair organised by the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore was held at Singapore Expo Hall, while Travel Revolution organised by the Singapore Outbound Travel Agents Association (SOTAA) held at Marina Bay Sands convention centre.

NATAS fair attracted more than 83,000 visitors – down on last year’s 110,000.

There were 87 exhibitors from travel agents, airlines, cruise companies, hotels to tourism bodies.

NATAS president Steven Ler told TTG Asia that the fall in visitors was “not totally unexpected” because there were two travel fairs held simultaneously.

Dream Cruises which participated at NATAS, said that interest on cruise travel was “overwhelming.’’

Dynasty Travel’s director of public relations and communications Alicia Seah said that cruise holidays are very popular among Singaporeans as many have cruised around Southeast Asia and are now looking to cruise further afield.

“We have bookings not only for Southeast Asia regional cruise but also cruises to Alaska, Mediterranean and on board our special chartered river cruise on Crystal Debussy’s Tulips and Windmills itinerary to Amsterdam,’’ Ms Seah said.

Dynasty also participated in NATAS fair.

Chan Brothers Travel said that booking for holidays were up by 10 per cent during the Travel Revolution Fair. Popular cruise destinations included Southeast Asia for quick getaway trips for families.

Princess Cruises, which participated in both fairs, said that Majestic Princess  itineraries to Taiwan and Japan were popular and Alaska remained the top-selling destination . There was also an increase of enquires from younger travellers.

Royal Caribbean Cruises, which also participated in both fairs, saw strong response from visitors especially for the school holiday period on Voyager of the Seas and the new ship Symphony of the Seas’ Mediterranean itineraries.

“There were even enquiries and bookings for 2019 Chinese New Year and March school holiday cruises, which demonstrates that the growing market attraction for cruising and consumers are becoming more aware of the advantages of booking early,’’ said a spokeswoman.