SINGAPORE – The SingapoRediscovers voucher program got off to a strong start on Tuesday (December 1), with a spate of online bookings, causing some offers to sell out by noon.
As of 4:30 p.m., the five appointed booking platforms had received more than 11,900 bookings, totaling about $ 1.86 million in vouchers and payments, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said in a statement Tuesday evening.
The $ 100 tourism vouchers awarded to all adult Singaporeans have resulted in a good mix of hotel, attraction and tour bookings so far, STB said, adding that there is a healthy interest in bundled packages.
Ms. Angel Ho was one of those who started browsing the offerings at midnight, when the five booking platforms – Changi Recommends, GlobalTix, Traveloka, Trip.com and Klook – went live with their voucher-applicable staycations, attraction tickets and tours.
Ms. Ho, 32, said the multiple platforms made for a painstaking search, although the redemption process went smoothly.
She booked a package on GlobalTix for two adults and two children to visit the Singapore Zoo and River Safari and paid $ 60 after the $ 100 coupon.
“For me, $ 60 for my family of four to both parks is reasonable. I doubt whether I would want to spend that much without the vouchers, ”said the logistics manager.
While no major technical issues were reported on Tuesday, some said they were having trouble redeeming their vouchers.
Housewife Shin-Yu Tan said she tried to book Snow City tickets for her family of four on Klook in the morning, but got an error after applying the generated voucher code.
Since her husband had already taken leave of absence before the scheduled date, Mrs. Tan, 33, ended up paying the full price of $ 86.20 for the tickets and rental of gloves.
In response to inquiries, Klook said customers have struggled to complete their bookings because some of the popular activities were sold out.
Ms. Sarah Wan, Klook’s marketing director for Southeast Asia, apologized to customers for the inconvenience and added that Klook is working with merchants to ensure inventory is replenished as soon as possible.
“In fact, most of the out-of-stock activities have already been replenished,” she said.
More than 280 products are available for redemption on a variety of platforms, STB said yesterday, adding that more value-for-money deals will be rolled out over the next seven months.
While tour operators and attraction operators had raised concerns that much of the value of the vouchers would go to staycations, the restriction on pooling vouchers for a single transaction ultimately discouraged some consumers from opting for this option.
Operations manager Caleb Tan, 48, said the staycation packages on offer were too expensive and would try to book vacation activities for his two children instead. “The $ 100 can barely cover half the cost of each night in a decent four- to five-star hotel,” he said.
The $ 320 million SingapoRediscovers credit scheme intended to boost the tourism industry in Singapore is the first national digital voucher program to be rolled out by the government.
Those who have difficulties navigating the online sites and need assistance can go to any of the 69 physical counters located around the island in community centers and other locations. The counters are provided by Changi Recommended, GlobalTix and Klook to assist with bookings on their own platforms.
Taxi driver Ng Beng Lam, 72, and his wife Ong Choon Hwa, 68, were first in line to make a booking at the Tampines East Community Center on Tuesday morning, arriving an hour before the Klook and UOB Travel Planners counters opened at 10am.
The couple booked tickets to the Sands SkyPark and Observation Deck at Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer, spending about half of their vouchers.
“This is an opportunity for my family and I to visit Singapore attractions after this difficult year,” said Mr Ng.
No rush to book at the physical counters was observed, with no more than 10 people visiting those from the Tampines East Community Center between 11am and noon. The staff at the Changi Recommended counters at the Bedok Community Center said they had seen about 10 visitors between 10am and 2pm with one booking.
Some older attendees The Straits Times spoke to chose not to book, and some indicated they believed the vouchers were in physical form.
Cleaning lady Pauline Woo, 68, said she found the redemption process “too complicated”, despite explanations from the counter.
Mr. Narayana Samy, 68, said he had hoped to use his vouchers to stay in a four or five star hotel but was put off by room rates of $ 200 or more per night.
The retired international marketing manager for a golf company said older people may be inclined to places to stay because they may not be fit enough to visit attractions and tours, but the prices are a deterrent.
Bank employee Josh See said he plans to wait until the December school holidays are over before using his vouchers.
“I will probably use them for rides, but I don’t want to deal with the crowds. Plus the booking process sounds messy so I’ll have them fix the kinks first ”, says Mr See, 38.