740 per cent surge in flight bookings for 4-day national day weekend

740 per cent surge in flight bookings for 4-day national day weekend

There has been a 738 per cent surge in bookings for flights leaving Singapore on Aug 7 this year, compared to bookings last year.

The leap in travel plans happened within 48 hours of the public holiday announcement on Saturday, said Skyscanner, an online platform which monitors the booking of flights and finds the cheapest options, in response to queries from The New Paper.

This despite Speaker of Parliament Madam Halimah Yacob encouraging Singaporeans to stay home to celebrate the Jubilee.

People are also leaving slightly earlier.

For Aug 6, the number of bookings saw a 666 per cent spike, compared to last year, revealed Skyscanner's Pamela Knaggs.

Despite the rapid spike, Ms Knaggs said they "are not surprised as (their) historical data shows that people typically make use of long weekends to travel".

The extra public holiday on Aug 7 - which turned the three-day weekend into a four-day one - was gifted to the public in celebration of the country's Jubilee year.

Which destinations are residents going off to? Ms Knaggs said: "As of Monday, Bangkok holds the highest number of bookings for Aug 7.

"The rest are Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Penang and London."

SG50 WEEKEND PROMOTIONS

TripZilla Travel, an online travel deals platform, has already seen a number of enquiries stream in since the announcement.

A spokesman from the company said: "We do expect an increase in demand for travel that long weekend, particularly for families."

Said TripZilla.com CEO, Ms Winnie Tan: "With the Travel Revolution travel fair coming up next week, travel agencies will be pushing their SG50 weekend promotions.

"The SEA Games may keep many Singaporeans from travelling during the June holidays and that's why we expect people to travel during the Aug 7 long weekend."

A spokesman from travel agency SA Tours said they too have had a number of enquiries about deals during the long weekend.

The travel agency revealed that families are "more interested in nearby destinations like Hong Kong and Thailand, but some are asking about Taiwan, Japan and Korea as well".

Ms Eva Wu, marketing and communications manager at SA Tours, said: "We haven't come up with concrete plans for promotions but judging from the response and fervour, we're definitely looking into planning something special for that weekend."

Miss Nadia Sanusi, 25, an accountant said: "The extra public holiday makes it a four-day long weekend.

That is usually the perfect duration for a quick getaway to places like Thailand or Bali.

"I'm definitely not hesitating. My girlfriends and I found some affordable tickets to Bali and we're booking them tonight."

Bye bye, we're off

Of the 567 respondents to an online survey by The New Paper, about 350 indicated that they would be leaving the country during the four-day break in August.

When asked if Singaporeans should stay for the Jubilee Weekend, 352 respondents felt that they were not duty-bound to do so.

About 4 in 10 felt Singaporeans should stay in the country to celebrate, saying that it should be done out of pride.

A day after the extra public holiday was declared to celebrate the nation's 50th birthday, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob appealed to Singaporeans to remain in the country and join in the celebrations, instead of going abroad.

"My appeal to Singaporeans is to please stay in Singapore during the long weekend.

"I understand that Singaporeans take the opportunity during periods of long weekends to chill out with their families overseas, and on other occasions that's all right, but on this occasion, I hope that they will stay and really celebrate together as a nation," Madam Halimah had said.

Hotels offering deals for staycation

With the surprise four-day National Day break, hotels are offering staycation deals to entice Singaporeans.

Shangri-La, for instance, launched its fuss-free "Jubilee Weekend" package, exclusively for Singapore citizens - for two nights' stay, the third night is free - just days after the announcement.

Its vice-president and general manager Reto K. Klauser said families could enjoy a luxurious staycation and participate in the celebratory activities going on at that time, like performances at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which is just a 15-minute walk from the hotel.

For that weekend, Orchard Hotel is offering a 50 per cent discount for every second night's stay.

Guests will also enjoy half off the prices of its buffets during their stay.

Its director of marketing communications Amy Ang told The New Paper they are expecting a higher pick-up rate for their rooms with the extra holiday.

About 10 per cent of their bookings for that weekend is already sold out.

"We've received a lot of interest on our SG50 packages and already, we have approximately 10 per cent on the book for that weekend.

"During past National Day weekends, we would have about 10 per cent (of) bookings from Singaporeans on staycation.

"With an extra public holiday this year, we are expecting a pick-up rate of about 30 per cent," Ms Ang said.

Hotels near the parade venue at the Padang are also reporting quick sales. Their rooms are generally sought-after as people want to catch a bird's eye view of the fireworks.

Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford have received an influx of enquiries on the availability of stay packages during the weekend, while Pan Pacific Singapore said it is planning a customised package to help people take advantage of the extra holiday and the celebratory events in the area.

SIGNATURE DISHES

Ms Cheryl Ng, marketing director of Pan Pacific Singapore, said: "There will be plenty of festivities around Marina Bay and we intend to create a customised programme guide to further allow guests to take up the package to engage in the fun over the long weekend.

"To enhance the experience, we are planning lots of dining options that will include Singapore's signature dishes at Edge restaurant over Long Long Lunch, our signature lunch buffet.

"Guests who take up the Fireworks by the Bay room package will also enjoy a National Day amenity which will be revealed as a surprise when they check in."

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, has also come up with a package called Celebrate Singapore, Celebrate You, "to leverage on the jubilant nationwide atmosphere".

It includes overnight accommodation, buffet breakfast, $50 dining credit, a bottle of champagne and a limited-edition Ritz-Carlton "Singapore 50" lion beanie, starting from $550 a night.

Only 25 per cent of the rooms allocated for this package are left said Ms Courtenay Dundy, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.

Expecting a spike in demand, Millennium and Copthorne hotels and Resorts World Singapore said they would be launching special packages for that weekend soon.


This article was first published on March 19, 2015.
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