Natas makes changes, but travel firms not biting

The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) was spurned yesterday when it offered an olive branch to a bunch of agencies that set up a fair in competition with it.

Natas announced that its tra-vel fair next March will have free admission, lower booth rental charges and better publicity.

But the 24 agencies that have set up a rival fair said they will still go ahead with their event at The Sands Expo and Convention Centre from March 27 to 29 - the same dates as the Natas fair at the Singapore Expo.

They had said on Tuesday that they were upset with Natas' rental charges, the $4 admission fee that they say keeps potential customers away, the "lacklustre" event publicity and lack of transparency about how proceeds from the fairs are used.

The group includes the "Big Four" - Dynasty Travel, SA Tours, CTC Travel and Chan Brothers Travel - and others such as Apple Holidays, Nam Ho Travel and Farmosa Holidays.

Natas president Devinder Ohri told reporters yesterday, however, he was optimistic that only the Natas fair will take place on those dates.

Speaking after a forum with 75 Natas members, he said about 80 to 90 per cent of the issues they brought up have been resolved.

Natas is adjusting booth rental charges and will conduct open balloting to allocate booths, he said. It is also waiving the $4 entrance fees for both its fairs in March and August next year - although this is to mark the SG50 celebrations and not a direct response to the rival fair.

On transparency, Mr Ohri said the association's audited accounts are available to all members in its annual financial report. But certain information is subject to non-disclosure agreements and cannot be shared.

The 24 agencies had claimed they contributed to 80 per cent of the sales at previous Natas fairs, but Mr Ohri dismissed this as "pure speculation".

"We don't really know... what the sales (of the individual companies) are. I'm not able to speculate," he said.

The agencies said in a statement last night they disagreed with Mr Ohri's view that most of the issues have been resolved. They said the waiver of entrance fees next year is only temporary and financial data specific to the Natas fairs is still being withheld.

They added: "That said, we work towards sincere and concrete reconciliation of differen-ces."

This article was first published on Nov 28, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.