SINGAPORE - Pull out your diary and start vacation planning.
Public holiday dates for 2015 released by the Manpower Ministry yesterday yielded seven long weekends, as the days off - Chinese New Year, Good Friday, Labour Day, Vesak Day, Hari Raya Puasa, National Day and Christmas Day - fall either on Friday, Sunday or Monday.
This is a bumper crop. Typically, there are only about four or five such long weekends a year.
And those who apply for an extra three days of leave can enjoy 10 long weekends, as New Year's Day, Hari Raya Haji and Deepavali fall on a Thursday or Tuesday.
Deepavali next year is slated for Nov 10, a Tuesday, but this may change depending on the Hindu almanac, usually released in the first half of the year.
The news has had travel agencies licking their chops.
Several told My Paper that they anticipate up to a 30 per cent spike in travel next year compared with this year, on account of the deluge of long weekends. There are only four this year.
Major agency Dynasty Travel will be block-booking plane seats and hotel rooms for travel during the 10 potential long weekends. It is even considering chartering flights over several of the weekends if demand is high.
Its marketing communications director, Ms Alicia Seah, said: "We have to plan ahead. If not, we won't get the allocation and we will lose out on business. Airlines and hotels allocate only a certain number of seats to travel agents. We have to grab them fast."
She expects Singaporeans to make short trips to places such as Hong Kong, Vietnam and Cambodia during the long weekends. Some will also take extra leave to visit mid-haul locales like Australia or Turkey, she said.
Other agencies, like ASA Holidays, plan to roll out special tour itineraries to stoke demand during those long weekends.
However, human resource experts warn against counting one's chickens before they are hatched.
Mr Ronald Lee, managing director of human resources firm Primestaff Management Services, said the current manpower crunch might mean that firms are less likely to let their workers take extra leave near the long weekends. Many may also dangle carrots like extra days off and pay to encourage staff to work through the long weekends.
"You can't have everyone wanting to go on leave at the same time. Most companies have a limit on the number of people who can take leave at one time," said Mr Lee. "Some industries - like the food and beverage industry - which require people to work on public holidays may give incentives to get workers to work through the long weekends too."
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