Travel agents to help mozzie-proof homes

IF YOU book a holiday package soon, don't be surprised if your travel agent hands you a brochure with an anti-dengue message together with your tour booking forms.

The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) will send out an e-mail advisory to 287 of its members today, seeking their help to advise travellers to mozzie-proof their homes before leaving the country.

These members, which include outbound tour operators and air-transport agents, will be encouraged to give travellers leaflets on how to prevent mosquito breeding in homes while they are away.

The information will focus on the steps they should take, such as turning off water sources like taps, and covering and sealing toilet bowls and floor traps.

The leaflets are a collaborative effort between the National Environment Agency and the North West Community Development Council (CDC).

Staff at five travel agencies in north-western Singapore started giving out the leaflets yesterday, as part of a Mozzie-Free Homes @ North West initiative led by the CDC.

Natas' acting chief executive, Ms Patricia Auyeong, expects many members to help in the battle against the dengue scourge in Singapore, especially as the June peak travel season approaches.

"Agents who are proactive and believe in the welfare of their clients will take up this initiative," Ms Auyeong told My Paper yesterday.

A total of 7,195 cases of dengue was reported from January till Monday afternoon. For the whole of last year, there were 4,632 recorded cases, while there were 5,330 cases in 2011.

The number of cases reported has been rising steadily in recent weeks. For the week ending last Saturday, 620 cases were reported, a 10 per cent increase from the week before. Homes reportedly account for up to 70 per cent of mosquito breeding spots.

In the North West District, close to 700 dengue cases have been reported so far this year, up till last Thursday. This is a significant increase, compared to the 184 cases reported in the same period last year.

Mr Micker Sia, managing director of participating agency WTS Travel and Tours, said his company typically sees about 30-40 per cent more bookings for the June period, as compared to other months. Travellers also tend to take longer trips of five to six days in June.

The middle months of the year, from May to August, are typically the peak season for dengue, earlier reports said.

Dr Teo Ho Pin, Mayor of North West District, said that on average, it takes about seven days for an Aedes mosquito to transform from an egg into an adult. He said: "With rising temperatures speeding up this process, the time span might become even shorter."

Ms Auyeong said: "We all have to do our part to assist in the Government's (anti-dengue) initiative. At the end of the day, a healthy population will benefit the travel industry."

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