SINGAPORE - Booking platforms and tour agencies are offering seniors more elder-friendly deals to entice them to use their SingapoRediscovers Vouchers (SRV).
The $320 million scheme has seen over 530,000 Singaporeans use their vouchers, spending $72.6 million in vouchers and payments as at March 1.
These new senior-friendly initiatives come as Singaporeans have less than four months left to use their vouchers, which must be redeemed by June 30.
The People's Association (PA) is working with booking platforms to organise senior-friendly tours for its residents, The Straits Times has learnt.
These tours are organised and led by PA grassroots leaders, and include transportation to and from community clubs (CCs).
Klook will be working with Chua Chu Kang CC and tour operator City Tours and Car Rentals to organise outings to the Singapore Flyer for residents later this month.
Back in January, Changi Recommends also worked with Woodlands CC to organise visits to the Singapore Zoo.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) told ST: "We recognise that some Singaporeans may require more assistance with redeeming their SingapoRediscovers Vouchers, such as those without digital access."
On whether Singaporeans will have more time to use their vouchers, STB said it will continue to closely monitor feedback about the SRV scheme.
Associate Professor Lawrence Loh from the National University of Singapore Business School said extending the redemption period for the SRV might be necessary, as it is unlikely Singaporeans will finish using their vouchers by June.
He said: "If you don't extend the vouchers, there will be a rush to use them. Some people will not be able to get their top choice if they visit during the June holidays."
Launched on Dec 1, the SRV scheme was designed to prop up the tourism sector in Singapore, which has been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
All Singaporeans aged 18 and above were given $100 in vouchers to spend on hotels, attractions and tours.
The vouchers can be redeemed through five online booking platforms: Changi Recommends, GlobalTix, Traveloka, Trip.com and Klook.
Those who have difficulty redeeming their vouchers online can visit more than 60 physical counters located at CCs, malls and post offices for help.
Meanwhile, travel agencies have also taken the initiative to work with social service organisations and offer tours for their beneficiaries.
Tourism Rainbow, a coalition of tour agencies led by Lex Travel, will be taking seniors from Lions Befrienders, which serves more than 7,600 seniors, on tours from this month.
The first tour will see four groups, of up to seven seniors each, visiting the Gardens by the Bay on March 28.
Ms Karen Wee, deputy executive director of Lions Befrienders, said: "We will review the first tour and gather feedback from our seniors, before progressively rolling out tours to our other seniors."
Xperience DMC has also approached senior homes to promote the wheelchair-friendly tour.
A WTS Travel spokesman said it has, so far, conducted 10 tour groups for senior citizens, some of which are organised by senior activity centres.
These senior-friendly tours differ from regular ones in a few ways.
On walking tours, tour guides try as much as possible to walk in the shade. The tours are also designed so that seniors who need to use the toilet frequently can do so.
Some tours also provide chartered bus services and vans to cater to the needs of less mobile or wheelchair-bound seniors.
Retiree Madam Khoo Boon Eng, 73, recently went on a wheelchair-friendly tour in Siglap with seven friends. All of them paid for the tour, organised by Xperience DMC, using their SRVs.
Held last Saturday, the tour was a breeze for the group, including for one of Madam Khoo's friends, who uses a walking stick.
Madam Khoo was also thrilled to see relics from the past such as a hand-operated ice-kachang machine when they visited vintage shop Wee's Collection along the way.
"We laughed and talked about how as children we ate ice kachang and took the trishaw home after school," she said.
STB said tour operators who want to offer itineraries eligible for the vouchers must comply with safe management measures.
Up to 20 participants are allowed for walking, cycling and kayaking tours, said STB.
Those participants must be split into groups capped at the prevailing social gathering size, which is currently eight people.
For conveyance-assisted tours, the capacity limit is capped at 50 people, or the operating capacity the vehicle is allowed to maintain under Covid-19 restrictions, whichever is lower.
Activities for seniors
1. Journey to "70s"
Explore Bugis on a trishaw ride and stop for tea at Hainanese coffee shop, YY Kafei Dian, in Beach Road. Visit Raffles Hotel Singapore down the road and learn about the heritage hotel's past.
Platform: Changi Recommends
2. Harmonious Fengshui Tour
Learn about the basic principles of feng shui, the Chinese art of geomancy, while visiting famous landmarks such as the Merlion Park and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
Visitors will be able to hop on and off a coach which will ferry them to and from more than five locations known for their architectural value.
Lunch provided at a Michelin-star bak kut teh restaurant.
3. S.E.A. Aquarium One-Day Ticket
Look out for sea creatures such as the zebra shark and giant grouper as they flock towards divers who will be hand-feeding them during dive-feeding sessions.
The sessions are part of the aquarium's new The Sea of Tiki theme, which is on until May 11.
Most of the routes in the S.E.A. Aquarium are wheelchair-friendly and seniors can buy discounted tickets.
4. Farm Tour (Half Day)
Escape from the city and experience farm life for a morning at three farms - Nyee Phoe Gardenasia, Hay Dairies Goat Farm and Kok Fah Technology Farm
Price: $50/pax (minimum two people required)
5. Tiong Bahru Culture Tour
Seniors can tuck into comfort foods such as bak kut teh or Hainanese chicken rice, while visiting Tiong Bahru - one of Singapore's oldest housing estates.
The tour also comes with a Chinese-speaking guide and the option of attending either a dumpling-making workshop or a calligraphy class.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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