IMMINENT war did not stop 26,000 people from streaming into Singapore’s first big travel fair of the year, but it did translate into very few bookings to Turkey and the Middle East.
Job losses and an uncertain economy took their toll on crowd numbers and business volume at the Chan Brothers Travel Fair on Sunday.
Attendance was down by about 4,000 from the fair held in March last year and the agency had secured S$4mil (RM8.7mil) in bookings by 5pm on Sunday, compared with S$6mil (RM13mil) last March.
While the event at Suntec City Convention Centre was a one-company show, the 38-year-old travel agency is one of the largest in town, so many see its twice-yearly travel fairs as a reliable barometer of travel sentiment among the people.
The company’s executive director, Chan Guat Cheng, 42, said: “While the numbers are down, they are still good figures in a time when there is so much uncertainty. We’re very happy.”
About three-quarters of the 50 visitors interviewed at the fair said a worsening economy was more likely to put them off travel than war.
Sales assistant and mother of four Norarfah Talib, 33, said: “I would be more concerned about how to feed my kids if I lost my job, than about Iraq and North Korea.
“These countries are far away and if war happens, it happens.”
Assistant engineer Abigail Goh, 31, said: “If war broke out today, the uncertainty it would create might make me think twice about using money I might need on a trip.
“But the talk of war has been dragging on for so long, I’m not just going to stay in Singapore and do nothing.”
The most popular destinations were China, Japan and South Korea. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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