Longhaul makes a splash at NATAS fair

OUTBOUND agents in Singapore are reporting a booming longhaul business despite higher airfares, with last weekend’s NATAS TRAVEL 2011 posting unprecedented sales figures.

Europe topped the list of destinations sold at the fair, while evergreen favourites such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea continued to dominate the top five. NATAS CEO, Robert Khoo, said the favourable exchange rate and good economy were push factors for longhaul.

Agents told TTG Asia e-Daily that travellers were snapping up packages to less common destinations such as Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, and enquiring about South America due to Singapore Airlines’ new flight to Sao Paulo this month.

Hong Thai Travel Services manager, advertising and marketing division, Stella Chow said: “We see bookings for our 12- to 14-day holidays picking up. Because the employment market is good, people are more willing to take long leave, and there’s pent-up demand from the last few years.”

She added that Hong Thai, encouraged by this trend, had just launched mono-destination packages for Spain and Italy.

Seiki Travel director Kelvin Goh said bookings for longhaul had even eclipsed those for the region. “Longhaul used to be less than five per cent of our bookings a few years ago. Now it’s 50 per cent or more.”

Outbound giants Chan Brothers Travel and CTC Travel also noted a growing popularity in FIT and customised itineraries.

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