By: Aditi Shivaramakrishnan, newsroom intern
IF you've heard that this year's second Natas travel fair may be cancelled, don't fret. Natas has confirmed it's still on.
Natas Holidays 2008 will be held at the Singapore Expo, Halls 4 and 5, from 1 to 3 Aug.
There was a discussion on a local radio station last week about some local travel agents doing away with their usual pre-Natas travel fairs this year.
"Hearing Natas mentioned on the show, some listeners misunderstood and thought Holidays 2008 was going to be cancelled," said Mr Bobee Chua, a communications executive with Natas, the National Association of Travel Agents, Singapore.
Enquiries from the public and travel agents started to come in, so Natas decided to clarify things. According to the association, booths are already selling fast.
Mr Chua said that bigger travel agents doing away with their pre-Natas fairs may have contributed to the high take-up rate.
He said: "They've decided to focus their marketing on the Natas fair itself, so they've taken up bigger booths."
ASA Holidays' deputy general manager for marketing and communications, Ms Eileen Oh, said: "We have decided to concentrate on the Natas fair, and put all our assets into making our presence there bigger than before.
"So it'll be our very first platform to launch the autumn and winter itineraries."
But just a month ago, travel agents seemed less upbeat about their prospects.
"We did have our apprehensions about the upcoming Natas fair," said Ms Oh.
She attributed this to the economic uncertainty brought about by "inflation and ever-rising fuel surcharges".
But Mr Chua said: "Travelling in Singapore is a lifestyle already, so we are still rather optimistic. According to ticket sales, the last fair (in February) attracted a record number of visitors. This time, we believe we will perform as well, if not better."
And it looks like customers will benefit.
Said Ms Oh: "We want to make sure our customers will be much more rewarded, so we're working on some good promotions."
And Mr Chua promised: "There will definitely be quite a few things to look forward to at this fair.
"It will be very different, and visitors can expect a lot of new initiatives."
This article was first published in The New Paper on June 20, 2008.