Tourist packages to see the Northern Lights, hot tickets from European Christmas markets when returning from the Natas Fair

SINGAPORE — Natas’ travel fair is back, and so are the crowds, buying tour packages to destinations like Hokkaido, Finland for the Northern Lights and Christmas markets in Europe.

The three-day National Association of Travel Agents Singapore show, last held in August 2019, kicked off Friday, August 12 at Singapore Expo Hall 5 with over 40 exhibitors. These include travel agencies, national tourism organizations and travel insurance providers.

Organizers expect 80,000 to 100,000 visitors this year, on par with pre-pandemic attendance figures.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan noted at the show’s opening ceremony that overseas travel had accelerated, with more than 311,000 departures in May this year, or ten times more than the previous year.

Natas chairman Steven Ler said: “Thanks to pent-up demand over the past two years, we expect the influx of holidaymakers to pick up momentum over the remainder of the year.”

The travel agencies the Straits Times spoke to said they expected strong demand at the show this year after a three-year hiatus.

“After Covid-19, people are willing to spend more on travel… For many, seeing the Northern Lights is on the to-do list,” said Ong Han Jie, director of EU Holidays.

The Northern Lights are usually only visible from November to March.

In addition to European destinations such as Switzerland and Italy, Japan is also highly sought after, although the country currently only allows package tours.

“By December, we have 60 groups leaving for Japan, but we will add 10 to 20 more,” Ong said.

Chan Brothers Travel has also seen “incandescent” turnout for similar destinations, according to its senior director of marketing communications, Jeremiah Wong.

Besides Japan and Western Europe, Turkey has also been popular with its customers.