Cheaper flights, social media boosting travel to lesser-known cities
Cheaper flights and social media use are boosting the number of people travelling to lesser-known cities
This summer - June to August - Tokyo, Seoul and Bali remain the top three vacation spots for Singaporeans, according to online travel services company Expedia.
That is hardly surprising, but Singaporeans are venturing out of their comfort zones too, exploring less-hyped places in the region.
Expedia noted that the bookings from travellers here to destinations such as Cebu, Kuching, Colombo, Chiang Rai and Chengdu have doubled for this summer, compared to the same period last year.
It is a similar trend for travellers from South-east Asia in general, who have bumped up bookings twofold to destinations like Bandar Seri Begawan, Hat Yai, Kota Baru, Mandalay and Udon Thani.
Mr Simon Fiquet, Expedia's general manager for South-east Asia and India, said a dip in prices has played a huge role in this travel trend.
He told The New Paper: "Air ticket prices from Singapore to Cebu and Kuching have dropped by over 50 per cent and 40 per cent respectively over the same period.
"This is the result of a dip in fuel prices, so air ticket prices are, overall, decreasing."
Another big factor, alongside the new routes introduced by low-cost carriers and an increased frequency to existing routes, is social media.
Mr Fiquet, 37, said: "It has become somewhat a social media contest, where you go to places nobody has seen and put up posts about it.
"Soon, more and more people travel to the same destination. Before you know it, the cycle continues, and people move on to the next destination."
For him, the surge in interest in the north-eastern Thai city of Udon Thani, one of the fastest-growing domestic destinations for Thais, was unexpected.
"You will be surprised at the number of things you can do there. For Udon Thani, its main highlights include the various water parks that have popped up," he said.
A surge in interest in Udon Thani and Hat Yai, a city in southern Thailand, can be linked to the fact that Thais are the most frequent travellers in Asia.
On average, they make five to six trips annually, with most jaunts to nearby cities within the country or their provinces.
Indonesia and Malaysia are also experiencing a rise in domestic travellers.
It has become somewhat a social media contest, where you go to places nobody has seen and put up posts about it.Mr Simon Fiquet, expedia’s general manager for South-east Asia and India
"Currency fluctuations definitely play a part. The weakening ringgit, for example, means that more Malaysians have been choosing to stay in their home country and discovering more of Malaysia," said Mr Fiquet.
He added that Malaysians spend an average of $750 a trip.
Singaporeans, he said, spend about $1,800 for each holiday.
Asked if there are any emerging destinations projected for next year, Mr Fiquet said: "It is hard to tell for now, but air ticket prices to India and countries in South-east Asia keep getting cheaper every year, so that could be an indication.
"Travellers also increasingly enjoy doing activities at their holiday spots, so a place that has a lot to offer will increase in popularity."
TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS
- The best time to book air tickets? According to Mr Fiquet, it is Saturday and Sunday. One can enjoy an average of 25 per cent savings on flights between Asia- Pacific and the US, 29 per cent savings on flights between Asia-Pacific and Europe as well as 38 per cent savings for flights within Asia-Pacific.
- Book more than 21 days in advance. Those who book flights more than three weeks ahead of their travel enjoy savings of between 14 per cent and 19 per cent.
- Looking to save even more? Booking via mobile apps can be even cheaper because of special app-only deals.