Nov 18, 2013

    Travellers visiting places off the beaten track

    HOLIDAYS to cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Paris? The general sentiment from Singaporeans nowadays seems to be same old, same old.

    Instead, travel agencies are seeing more customers turn to exotic locations in Eastern Europe, including Prague and Budapest, as well as less-trodden regions in China like Lijiang and Guilin.

    Travel agencies here noted that sales of tour packages to Eastern European cities have gone up by at least 20 per cent this year compared to last year, while those to Central Europe have dipped for this holiday season.

    When asked to explain the trend, CTC Travel spokesman Alicia Seah pointed to a weaker euro, which means that the spending power of travellers is higher and tour packages cost less.

    "Many people have already been to Central Europe - such as Switzerland and France - and they want to explore new parts of Europe," she added.

    At ASA Holidays, demand for less-visited places in China is spiralling north.

    Spokesman Eileen Oh said: "Five years ago, most of our customers go for 'first tier' cities like Shanghai and Beijing. But now, about half choose places such as Lijiang, Guilin or Guangxi. One reason could be the start of direct flights to these cities."

    Last month, budget carrier Tigerair became the first airline to fly directly from here to Lijiang.

    Finance executive Lim Wei Li, 27, who has been to Lijiang, Mongolia and Tibet, said: "There are things in such locations that no one knows about, and these places are usually cheaper.

    "You also have a more authentic experience as they are less commercialised."