The Economic Times
As the face-off over travel agent’s commission between foreign airlines and Indian travel agents associations intensifies, Singapore is likely to suffer big losses in terms of revenues from foreign tourists.
Travel agents across the country have started discouraging tour packages to Singapore, substituting them with similar priced destinations like Thailand, Indonesia or Malaysia.
Singapore Airlines (SIA), the national carrier of Singapore, and 11 other airlines had stopped paying commissions to travel agents in November. Six associations of travel agents singled out SIA and blocked the sale of its tickets, demanding restoration of the 5% commission.
When SIA did not budge, officials of these associations met Singapore Tourism Board (STB) executives on January 29 to push their demand. While waiting for a response from the STB, travel agents have started diverting travellers to destinations other than Singapore.
Pradeep Lulla, president, Travel Agents Association of India (TAFI), one among the six travel agents associations, said: “We are suggesting other countries to travellers, mainly because we don’t want to sell packages on SIA. For destination Singapore, we would have to sell on other airlines, whose inter-connectivity may not be quite as favourable in Singapore. Instead, we are selling Thailand, Indonesia or Malaysia as destinations.”
For the last two years, Indians constitute the fourth-largest group that visits Singapore, which attracts an estimated 8 lakh tourists per year.