HeritageFest website flooded with bookings for island-hopping trails

HeritageFest website flooded with bookings for island-hopping trails
A boat heading to Kusu Island.

SINGAPORE - The Singapore HeritageFest website opened for registration at midnight on Monday - and closed an hour later because it could not handle the overwhelming response from the public.

Frustrated users got error prompts when they tried to sign on for programmes, leading the organiser, the National Heritage Board (NHB), to close the online registration.

It is now asking the public to send e-mail instead to sign up for events.

Festival director Angelita Teo said the response was unexpected, as tours during last year's festival had taken about three days to fill.

The overwhelming response was for the island-hopping trails, and NHB said it will work with its partners, such as the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, to open up more slots so that those interested will get a chance to go on one trail, Ms Teo told The Straits Times yesterday.

However, NHB might conduct a ballot for the trails if the number of subscribers is "overwhelming".

The change in the registration process was made after people encountered a lag when the portal opened on Monday midnight.

Many disappointed netizens then took to the event's Facebook page to complain that they were unable to sign up.

The lag eventually resulted in the closure of registration at 1.05am. This drew even more flak online, with Facebook users questioning the ability of the site to handle the volume of visitors.

"Surely the organising committee would have expected the high Web traffic upon the opening of registration," said student Sim Yu Ling, 23, who had tried repeatedly to register before giving up at 12.32am.

She said she had encountered difficulty entering the site from as early as 11.30pm on Monday, about half an hour before registration opened.

To accommodate the high demand for the island-hopping trails, she said they may be conducted beyond the 10-day festival from July 18 to 27.

The four trails, which include visits to Pulau Satumu, Kusu island, Sentosa's Tanjong Rimau as well as St John's, Lazarus and Seringat islands, were the most popular of the more than 60 different activities in this year's festival.

It is the first time in the event's 11-year history that these trails are being organised.

"The island-hopping trails were fully subscribed within the first hour of registration, showing the keen interest Singaporeans have in our island heritage," said Ms Teo.

Those interested in taking part in the 10-day event should e-mail nhb_shf@nhb.gov.sg from today. Information is available online at www.heritagefest.sg.

The registration period for the island-hopping trails is from today to Sunday. Sign-ups for the other activities will be on a first-come-first- served basis.

Mr Desmond Lee, 24, tried for more than an hour to sign up for the island-hopping trails - without success.

The Singapore University of Technology and Design student welcomed the new registration method: "It is less stressful since I just have to send an e-mail and wait for the result."

This article was first published on JULY 2, 2014.
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