More can be done to boost take-up rate of tourism vouchers
Showcasing smaller offerings, consolidating website could prompt more Singaporeans to use their $100 credits, says reporter Adeline Tan
In August last year, the Government announced that $320 million in the form of the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers would be set aside to save the tourism industry.
These vouchers take the form of $100 credits that Singaporeans can spend on hotel stays, entry to attractions, and tours.
Redemption of the vouchers started in December and will last till the end of June 30 this year, a period covering the December, March, and June school holidays.
The scheme got off to a strong start, with the five appointed booking platforms receiving more than 11,900 bookings, worth about $1.86 million in vouchers and payments, on the first day of redemption.
By the end of December, more than 300,000 Singaporeans had used their vouchers, resulting in about $36 million in vouchers and payments - about 10 per cent of the total in the scheme.
It may be time now to consider how the take-up rate of the vouchers can be boosted so that both consumers and the industry can benefit further.
A check of the five authorised booking partners - Changi Recommends, Klook, Trip.com, Traveloka, and GlobalTix - showed an extensive range of choices, from the big tourist attractions to small local tours.
Attractions such as Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios Singapore and the S.E.A. Aquarium were prominently splashed across some of the partners' websites.
While these are popular attractions, the booking platforms could also give smaller offerings prominence to cater to those looking for something more unusual.
For example, activities such as farm tours, heritage tours and a guided tour to take a look at disappearing trades can be placed higher up to attract more eyeballs.
Price can also be a factor in how these vouchers are spent.
Long weekends and public holidays are undoubtedly more popular times for such bookings. But these peak periods often come with a premium.
While not all hotels have raised their weekend rates, checks by The Straits Times showed that some hotels have done so, and by as much as 60 per cent.
Those who want to go for staycations during such peak periods may no longer find their vouchers enough to make the deal attractive.
While the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has tried to make the voucher redemption process easily accessible, such as by setting up physical locations for those who need assistance, perhaps the biggest hurdle, especially for less tech-savvy users, would be having to navigate through all the websites to look for something of interest.
A consolidated website that allows the user to browse all the different offerings before redirecting them to the correct booking platform would make the process more user-friendly.