Posts Tagged ‘Singapore hostels’

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Finding Budget Friendly Cheap Hotels in Singapore

Singapore is an island located in the Malay Peninsula. This small island of Southeast Asia is one of the few existing city -states in the world. The mix culture of the Chinese, the Indians, the Malaysians and the Europeans can be seen through out the entire city. This developed city of present time lures a great number of tourists due to its unique universal atmosphere and amusing way of life. Shopping and nightlife life in Singapore are beyond one’s explanation. It can be experienced with utmost pleasure. Making a plan for a holiday trip to Singapore is a great wonderful idea.

The hotels in Singapore are of different types which can easily suite to your budget. If you are thinking to spend more in hotel accommodations then you should go for the best luxury hotels of the town. But in the opposite case there are hotels for those who do not want to invest much on accommodations. Cheap Hotels In Singapore are exclusively designed keeping in mind about the basic needs of a modern day guest, which can come under one’s budget with ease. The city of Singapore is very clean and on the same time due to its tropical climatic condition it’s pleasant to visit in every season.

Discounts Hotels include a variety of luxury hotels which are of star rating in between 1-3. That is why budget travelers or backpackers can also afford the luxury motels in an affordable price. The tastefully decorated hotel rooms are enough to pamper the wishes of the visitors. Don’t plan anything in hurry; take sufficient time to choose the right hotel which can fulfill both your desire and budget. Browse the internet hotel websites of the city and make a deep research of the locations of the hotels, its prices, its features and facilities. Make a firm decision where to stay and then book the hotel seeing its terms and conditions for avoiding any unpleasant event in future. However, the Budget Hotels In Singapore offer all the latest facilities for a comfortable and pleasant stay.

Cheap Hotels in Singapore are Very Much Sought After

Hotels in Singapore are among the best known accommodation in the world. Equipped with the best of modern facilities and pleasing lodgers with its commendable services, Singapore Hotels are highly recommended accommodation in the country. Even cheap hotels in Singapore make for a great accommodation.

Falling in all categories, hotels in Singapore can be found in different price brackets. Ranging from luxurious Singapore hotels, mid range hotels to budget hotels… you will find it all in this lovely destination. Hotels Singapore is highly praised all across the world for their pretty ambience and warm reception. The hotel staffs are polite and very warm who meet all your needs with utmost respect and graciousness. Sought after by the backpackers and young people with lesser budget, cheap hotels in Singapore can be found mainly in areas of Little India, Bugis and East Coast. Singapore Budget Hotels are generally featureless and middling in their amenities and services, but they still are very much in demand and purposeful. You will find most of these lodgings in the western region of the Singapore River. Of late there has been an upsurge of “boutique” hotels in revamped shop houses here and in the area Chinatown and these accommodations are available at pretty good value.

An island-state in the region of Southeast Asia, Singapore is connected to Malaysia by bridges. Once a British trading colony, it is today one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Singapore is highly influenced by the Indian, Chinese, and Malay culture and it is the a tropical climate, with tasty food, good shopping and a vibrant nightlife scene, this Garden City makes a great stopover or springboard into the region. Singapore’s strategic location has helped it develop into a major hub for trade, communications, finance and tourism. Since Singapore is a popular travel destination, hotels in Singapore makes sure that they impress you to no end.

Some of the best things to do while you are on your trip to Singapore are as follows:


It is a heavenly experience to shop around in Singapore. Well designed and colossally built, shopping malls and centers of Singapore are a perfect haven for all the shopaholics. Most of the stores are open 7 days a week from 10 AM in the morning to 10 PM in the night. Many stores located along the shopping arcade of Orchard Road and Scotts Road now remain open late in the night on the last Friday of every month that has more than 250 retailers staying open till midnight.


Singaporean cuisines are simply delectable. Since the country is largely influenced by Chinese, Indian and Malay culture, you will find quality Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, French, Italian, American and other food in this city-state. Not just the food the restaurants as well are truly praiseworthy. The cheapest and most liked places to eat in Singapore are hawker centres. Apart from being a great place to eat out, the hygiene standards are also very good.

So have a good time in Singapore.

Hotels in Singapore, cheap hotels in Singapore

Hotels in Singapore are among the best known accommodation in the world. Equipped with the best of modern facilities and pleasing lodgers with its commendable services, Singapore Hotels are highly recommended accommodation in the country. Even cheap hotels in Singapore make for a great accommodation.

Renting Apartments in Singapore Can Be A Good Decision

The Republic of Singapore is an island nation situated at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It is around 137 kilometers north of the Equator, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of Indonesia’s Riau Islands. Singapore is one of the remaining city-states in the world and the smallest country in Southeast Asia. Singapore holds several accommodation facilities with different amenities.

Apartments have a big place among the accommodation facilities available in Singapore. The decision to rent an apartment in Singapore can be a good decision. If you are planning for a short stay in the vibrant city of Singapore then it is better to go for an apartment rental. By this way you can simply avoid the costs of upkeep associated with the apartment.

Some times it is very difficult to make an apartment feel like home. This thing will be true if your apartment owner is very stern about the type of decorations you can do within your apartment. There are some simple tricks to make your apartments feel like home. The first way to make this possible is to make the larger rooms in the apartment to smaller ones. This can be done by the help of folding screen which is available in the market. You can easily buy a folding screen which has your favorite display printed on it. If your mind is creative then you can buy old door and then decorate it with wallpaper and other decorative.

You can also provide a personal touch to your apartment by changing the basic knobs of the cabinets in the apartments with something decorative and suites your personal style. You can also change the entire cabinet door to make the cabinet more attractive. There is no provision to rip out the carpet and repaint the walls of your rented apartment, but you can make some changes to the look of the walls by attaching flat sheets or you can even create wall forms to fit snuggly against your walls. For changing the look of floors you can simply create your own rug using carpet samples.

There are several things that you can do to make your rented apartment in Singapore more beautiful. You can create a new look in your bathroom by attaching a fabric skirt around the wall mounted bathroom sink. Artworks and plants can be placed in the apartment to increase its beauty. You can hang lightweight picture on the walls without making holes in the wall. If you are person with little imagination and creativity then you can make your rented apartment in Singapore a vibrant home.

Some people believe that the life in an apartment is the recipe for living. According to experts “Time to enjoy family & friends” make the people happy. So the noticeable conclusion from all this is that apartment residents are happier than all other people who are staying in other places. Most of the people around the world like to rent an apartment than buying a home. The first and most important reason to live in an apartment is that there is no yard to mow.

In an apartment you will never have to pull weeds, worry about taking care of fire ant problem misuse water on the lawn to remain your grass green. Freedom in the apartment is the next important factor that attracts most of the people towards apartments. You can move anywhere at the end of the lease with the apartment owner without any legal barrier.

In apartments in Singapore you will get the facilities which are available in a star hotel in Singapore. You can use pool and deck areas at any time of the day without the tension about up-keeping.

Now-a-days renting an apartment in Singapore is much cheaper than ever before. If your are staying in your house then you have to take care of toilet breaks, refrigerator runs, door falls off it’s hinges, sink leaks, develop a pest problem, or any number of the possible things that can happen. In an apartment you can simply inform the management whenever you face a situation like above. They will take necessary steps and make the things in order at the earliest. Most of the apartments in Singapore hold fitness centers. This facility is free to use for those who are staying in the apartment complex.

Comfortable, Quality Singapore Hotels


Singapore is a tourist destination, which the tourists all over the globe are eyeing for a holiday filled with all the fun and excitement. It is a small country but packed with tons of surprises that attract millions to the country. Located at the southern tip of Malay Peninsula, Singapore is both an island and a country, which has derived its name from the Malay words ‘singa’ meaning lion and ‘pura’ meaning city. This is also the reason why sometimes the city is referred to as the Lion city. From a sleeping fishing village, Singapore has developed into an important financial center and a popular tourist destination. The country makes an excellent destination for all kinds of traveler’s right from an adventure holiday, leisure trip, romantic getaway, to business destination and even a stop-off destination.

Holidaymakers travel to this city to experience a hi-tech cosmopolitan city that has a lot to offer them. The city appeals to all, which is always bursting with excitement and entertainment. The perfect blend of traditions, cultures and the modern infrastructure, along with an array of attractions and activities, makes the city a hot tourist spot. Add to it the warmth and welcoming nature of the people, Singapore is a wonderful place. Singapore can be visited any time of the year, as the city enjoys a pleasant climate the whole year. The temperature always stays close to 29°C and with a rainfall throughout the year. Thus, the climate is not a major concern area when planning to visit Singapore but the events that take place here. The country is a happening place and what better times than Singapore’s exciting special events, so check ahead for the date’s and reserve your Singapore hotel.

Singapore has a wide range and variety of accommodation to facilitate its visitors. The right mix of Singapore hotels caters to all kinds of travelers and their requirements. The Singapore accommodation on offer takes care that all from backpackers, budget travelers, family travelers to business travelers all get a comfortable and quality hotels Singapore. With the Singapore hotels providing utmost comfort and quality service, they are ideal pick for business or leisure travel. The colonial district is a popular choice for the tourists for putting up as it’s in close proximity to the city’s main tourist sites. Orchard road is another favorite place for the visitors to choose their Singapore hotel as this area is an important shopping center. If looking for a quite accommodation away from the hustle bustle of the city, there are options available in the Sentosa Island.

One of the most modern cities of Asia, Singapore is a cosmopolitan city that is also the wealthiest and cleanest city in the world. The country has an array of fun filled activities, attractions on offer for an exciting vacation. There is no better city, which keeps you entertained all the time with the festivals and events taking place through out the year. The country has a diverse culture, opportunities to explore the beautiful beaches, numerous attractions along with great shopping facilities. The country’s food and entertainment go hand in hand, offering a wide variety of food as Singapore is home to people from different cultures. The result is number of different cuisines available to the tourists. This is a unique city, which has all the right things to capture the visitor’s attention. Thus, the city has a vibrating, moving and exciting nightlife. After the night sets in, one can see the nightclubs, pubs and bars coming alive with activity. Its party time and people chill out until the wee hours.

Travel destinations: Singapore

11 07 Singapore-It Preserves, Expands, and Projects

In June, 2001, while in London, my wife and I attended a musical comedy set in the British colony city of Singapore, in December, 1941. As part of the script, several of the British actors complained about their presence in “this mosquito-infested third world hellhole.” Soon after, in August, 2001, we visited the real Singapore today. What a difference! I knew the musical was accurate for its time, but Singapore today is an integral part of the FIRST world, sometimes called the Pacific Rim. A few years later, in 2004, we returned to the island city/nation, and I was even more impressed. We will be returning to Singapore in the near future, and follow its progress very closely.

Its People

The island of Singapore has about 4.5 million population (including about 3.6 million full-time citizens), comprised of about 75% Chinese ethnicity, 17% Malaysian, and 8% Indian. A considerable portion of its land, around 20%, has been reclaimed from the ocean since the 1960s. Even so, space is tight. Most of the population live in apartments. However, it should be emphasized that these are modern, functional apartments-call it Western-style in the best sense.

Primarily, the business of Singapore is just that-business. It exists as a banking, finance, and high tech electronics and manufacturing center. In 2005, based on shipping tonnage, the port of Singapore was the world’s busiest.

Its population is very well educated. Malay is the national language. However, English is the first language of administration and communication. There is a local colloquial dialect called Singlish, but it seems to contain many elements of American English. Drivers may use the left side of the road, but most citizens seem to understand the right side of many subtleties of the American vernacular. Depending on ethnicity, people choose Chinese (Mandarin), Malaysian, or Indian (Tamil) as a second language.

What to See

Many hotels in Singapore are recently built and rank as world class. Recently, the Ritz Carlton hotel in the city was considered to have the world’s sexiest bathrooms. We toured those bathrooms and certainly agree with that assessment. The colonial ambiance of Raffles Hotel is still available as an alternative. Fine dining exists in many restaurants, including the well-preserved charm of Raffles’ restaurant and bar. The very popular drink “Singapore Sling” originated right here at Raffles and

Bugis Street: Experiencing a different side of Singapore.

Bugis Street is one of Singapore’s most colorful areas; following a major government initiative during the 1980’s to clean up the area raunchy image it has been transformed in to an exciting shopping area. During the 1950’s the area was crammed full of traders and small retail outlets making it one of the country’s busiest economic zones. According to legend the area was named after the Buginese people who made a name for themselves as blood thirsty pirates.

A number of small commercial establishments were set up, including a number of outdoor bars; subsequent to this droves of transvestites were seen seemingly to attract the Western tourists. Business blossomed here in Bugis and it fast became the most popular tourist attraction in Singapore during the 60’s and 70’s and the nightly parade of brightly attired transvestite women used to draw in huge crowds.

What remains today in Bugis Street is the great street shopping experience, strict government controls have virtually wiped out the shady businesses. The original Bugis street is now a picturesque cobble stoned avenue squashed in between the buildings of Bugis Junction. Also found in this area is the Bugis Square which is an elegantly paved central square, with a dancing water fountain and a collection of shopping outlets and restaurants surrounding it.

New Bugis Street which can be seen bordering Bugis Street, is a newly created shopping street that was actually developed based on the old Bugis Street. It features a number of narrow alleys lined with stalls selling “pasar malam” or night market goods. This is in fact the only area in Singapore where tourists can experience a bazaar style shopping expedition, bargaining is commonplace here and a number of specialty goods such as traditional clothing, souvenirs and culinary delights can be found.

For visitors looking for a serviced apartment in Singapore, a comfortable accommodation option is the Somerset Bencoolen.

Memoirs: Traveling

“PLEASE be aware that Singapore is a country of strict legislation. You are expected to know the laws before arriving. The penalty of trafficking drugs is punishable by death,” the pilot announced when we began our descent after an 18-hour direct flight from New York.

Whilst I was still reeling from the severity of his words, the passenger next to me added to my chagrin, “Littering is a fine of up to S$1,000 (US$650) and no smoking in public spaces! The police wear plain clothes to catch offenders unaware. Chewing gum used to be banned too, right up till Jan 2005!”

Thank God, I had quit smoking two years ago. And what was that about chewing gum, I wondered. I felt stupid not reading up on the laws before. It was not that I did not do sufficient research on the things to do, what to see and eat. I had it all planned. After wowing all my friends and colleagues telling them how I would storm Southeast Asia all on my own, it seemed foolish now that I had overlooked the basics that could get me into serious trouble. Hopefully, nothing would go wrong.

My holiday plans were to spend an initial three days exploring Singapore and finish with a four-day-three-night-cruise on the Superstar Virgo to Phuket (Thailand) and Langkawi (Malaysia).

The biggest draw point was the advantageous exchange rate of our strong US currency in all of South East Asia. Everything would become cheaper and cheaper as I traveled, from Singapore, to Malaysia, and finally, Thailand.

Singapore was often mistaken to be part of China, or Vietnam, but really, it is an independent nation no more the size of Austin, Texas (or 682 square km), and had a population of about 4 million. Commercial skyscrapers and residential homes expounding on vertical expansion were the norm. The average household lived in 30-storey flats housing approximately 180 apartments, or pigeon holes’, as the locals coined it.

Geographically situated at the tip of Malaysia just above the equator, and surrounded by Indonesia, the climate was warm, humid, with no natural disasters, not even the tsunamis, thanks to the protective circumvention of the two neighboring countries.

I stayed in a hostel in Singapore’s Chinatown, where the rates went from S$55 (USD 35) per night for a standard double room. The location was ideal being near the Outram Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train station, where the two (and only two!), cross-directional, train lines by-passed as they ran across the entire island.

Turned out

Looking for Great Property in Singapore? Try a Condo !!!

You have probably heard about the rise in Singapore’s property prices coinciding with the acceleration of the economy. You have also probably heard that because of the changes in various housing rules, acquiring property within Singapore has become easier for those purchasing domestically and from foreign countries.

Singapore Condos are especially a favorite of foreign buyers. Singapore authorities used to have a rule in which a foreign buyer could only purchase an apartment in a building higher than six stories and the apartment had to be classified as a condominium. This rule no longer applies, but has not interfered with condo sales within buildings.

Yet to purchase a condo as a result of what is called Executive Condominium projects (EC), you must be a Singapore citizen or resident and the purchase must take place anywhere between the sixth and tenth year from the date the Temporary Occupation Permit was granted. Any foreigners or corporate bodies who are not permanent residents of Singapore are not eligible to purchase an EC. But the good news is that if you are a foreigner or part of a corporate body, you can purchase an EC if it is in its eleventh year from the date the Temporary Occupation Permit was issued.

So if you are a permanent citizen or a corporate body who wants to purchase an EC, the appropriate action is to locate the developer in that particular area to receive the information you need to make your purchase. If you are a foreigner or corporate body wanting to purchase an EC, you should also check with the developer in the area you are interested in so that you may find what ECs are in their eleventh year and beyond.

But if you want a good condo, you can go the EC route or you can look into apartment buildings that have apartments that are classified as condos. It more or less depends on your citizenship, if you are part of a corporate body that has relocated in Singapore, or what kind of money you are willing to spend. Although property prices within Singapore have seen a rise, that rise is due to the demand and success of the economy, which cannot be overlooked. These successes have resulted in a successful real estate market that involves anything from residential properties to the perfect condo, so be sure to look into purchasing property in Singapore if you are relocating domestically or relocating abroad.

For more information about Singapore Property and Real Estate, please visit our website .

Are you Ready for the Smerfs?

The SMERFs, a hardy and growing bunch, are travelling Asia for Social, Military, Education, Religious, and Fraternity reasons, offering vast untapped potential for this regions developing and recovering travel markets says Abacus International.

Their reasons for travelling are as diverse as war and peace, study and learning, seeking their god or just to catch up with like-minded people, but what they have in common is a will to travel even if times get tough. They do not mind even gathering in non peak times if it will help keep the costs down.

They are the SMERFS. No relation to their cuddly namesakes of television fame, they are the resilient groups travelling to and around Asia in their millions for social, military, education or religious reasons, or as part of fraternity groups such as alumni, workplace re unions or special interest groups.

Abacus International President and CEO, Mr Don Birch says that despite being budget conscious, the SMERFs collectively form a huge market and have vast untapped potential for developing or recovering Asian travel markets.

Abacus International estimates that the SMERF market across Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore alone is worth US$1.7 billion a year, based on an accepted US formula that the SMERF market is equivalent to about one third of the total meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market.

Whereas their better known cousins the MICE are serviced by specialist divisions within major hotel groups, travel agencies and dedicated Government programmes, the SMERFS are often below the radar and therefore harder to measure.

They are hardy and budget-conscious travellers which make them ideal for developing or recovering markets or as a complementary segment in peak markets, Mr Birch continued.

The SMERFs helped sustain the US hotel and airline industry in the period following the 9/11 terrorist events, and have shown themselves to be very resilient in the face of international in the face of international events, Don Birch said.

Who are the SMERFS?

The SMERFs are part of a wider trend in the travel market towards more outcome based travel travel for a purpose other than just to see things, and they’re more prepared than ever to travel abroad to achieve their aims according to Mr Birch.

This seemingly diverse group is united by a willingness to travel despite the economic cycle, to go off-peak and even off the beaten track if that is what it takes to track down budget transport and accommodation, Don Birch said.

Social travel traverses the fields of sports, special interest, ethnic, talent and dance organisations, with more and more diverse ethnic and professional associations adding to the growth. Examples include womens groups, volunteer workers and social sports teams travelling domestically or inter country for tournaments.

The growing number of car owners joining clubs in Singapore such as, TeamChevy Singapore and the Toyota Club Singapore, are a case in point. Aside from their regular monthly meetings where enthusiasts exchange tips on the technical aspects their cars, these clubs also serve as a rallying point for trips overseas, either to Sepang in Malaysia for a day of track racing or to other regional destinations for leisure trips. Further afield, fans of the Lord of the Rings have travelled to New Zealand in their thousands to experience in person some of the magic of the film. A guide book to the filming locations has now sold over 300,000 copies becoming the fifth largest ever selling non-fiction book in New Zealand in the process.

The Lord of the Rings has created the largest film tourism event the world has ever seen. Thousands of people have flocked to Middle earth New Zealand to follow in the footsteps of the hobbits and to bring back some of the emotions they felt when watching the film or reading the book, says Ian Brody author of the Location guide, which is selling just as well a full three years after the last movie in the trilogy.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Director of the Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC), Mr John Koldowski says there is also a well beaten path from India to the exotic film locations of Switzerland and Austria, as fans of Bollywood seek out the sets of their favourite movies.

The social category is a good market for hotel sales staff who want to fill room blocks in off-season and weekend periods, but attracting these bookings is reliant on repeat business, word of mouth from existing customers, and direct marketing to social organisers and providing the right kind of accommodation offers, Mr Birch said.

We used to think about SMERF groups as a market niche for budget hotels and hostel style accommodation, now they use convention and conference centres, university facilities, suburban hotels, downtown hotels, resorts and even unsold apartment complexes.

Military travel

Asias estimated 32 million soldiers are often on the move usually by military transport, but often by civilian travel networks in countries such as Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore. Not surprisingly, the Philippines is one of the largest military travel markets in the region. With its more than 400,000 strong army and vast territory of 7,000 islands, even the coming and going of soldiers on leave is a highly significant market.

While exact figures are difficult to procure due to the sensitivity of military travel, the growing number of websites specialising in military travel in this region, attest to the scale of interest in this market and present a highly focused audience for travel suppliers seeking to reach this market, Mr Birch said.

Education travel

The Singapore experience demonstrates the potential of the education travel market. Prospects for inbound educational travel are promising with the number of international students in Singapore for long-term studies (one month +) growing from 60,000 in 2003 to well over 70,000 in 2005 according to the Singapore Tourism Board. The Singapore Government is targeting to achieve 150,000 international students by 2015, particularly from China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam.

From summer camps to immersion programmes, travel operators in Asia are beginning to discover the value of outbound educational tourism in the region.

One of Singapores most established travel operators, Chan Brothers Travel, set up its own Educational Travel Centre (ETC) in 2003 to cater to the emerging educational travel market in Singapore, conducting tours for student groups to destinations such as China, England, Germany, Australia and Turkey during the student vacation months of June and December.

Another relative newcomer on the educational tour scene, Wing On Travel in Hong Kong offers English language and activity tours to Britain, Australia, Singapore, Canada and mainland China. Reflecting their commitment to cater to this emerging travel market, the agency decided to create a dedicated educational tour division. The company launched its first study tours in 2004 and this year plans to take 14 groups to Britain alone.

Mr Birch says, This travel segment has a high growth potential but travel operators need to be aware of the challenges inherent in conducting educational tours for school groups. Parents expectations, differences in cultural understanding and catering for homesick young students are just some of the many issues that tour operators will have to address through equipping their staff with the necessary skill sets and expertise.

While students from Hong Kong and Singapore are venturing to foreign shores for a comprehensive educational experience, Indian students are discovering Indias own cultural identity and heritage. Mr P Saravanan, from Viking Tours and Travels in Chennai, South India said that school groups are mainly travelling to experience the history, culture and monuments of other Indian states generally in groups of 25-40 people.

The school groups are very budget in their accommodation needs. That is 1 or 2 star, with as many as 3 or 4 children sharing each room, but they’re definitely a valuable market, because schools come back a number of times, as do families of the children as they grow up, so it is a valuable part of marketing, Mr Saravanan said.

A pioneer in the educational travel segment, Thai tour operator Track of the Tiger has been running educational tours for students from Australia and the UK for more than ten years. Mr Shane Beary, Director, said that the demand for educational programmes at its Maekok River Village Resort & Outdoor Education Centre has been growing at an average rate of 25 to30% over the past five years and recorded 7,500 room nights in 2005. With a market base that has grown to include students from Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Thailand, Track of the Tiger now offers programmes at Pang Soong lodge, its new Outdoor Education & Research Centre in Mae On, Chiang Mai, covering a range of environmental, and outdoor programmes for student groups, as well as team building and ‘voluntourism options for the corporate sector.

Mr Beary commented, Our experience has shown that there are many overlaps between educational, volunteer and eco tourism, which we have tried to build on in developing our programmes.

Religious travel

As one of the worlds most populous and largest regions, Asia is also recognised as the birthplace of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Countries such as China, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and the Philippines have a cultural heritage steeped in some of the worlds major religions, and government policies to develop joint tourist attractions such as the Buddhist circuit in Taiwan, China, Sri Lanka and India have definitely grown the pie for their respective religious tourism markets,said Mr Birch.

Agreeing, PATAs John Koldowski said, Religious traffic tends to be fuelled by domestic bookings but increasingly, there are more pilgrimages being organised for inbound tourists which usually cover more than one destination. For example, there is a distinct Buddhist circuit such as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka and a trail covering revered Buddhist sites in India.

With a myriad of religious sites throughout the country, India has an established group of religious tour operators to cater to the many domestic and foreign pilgrims that throng India during the peak travel periods of April, May and November.

Mr Ashok Negi, from Rajarani Travels in Mumbai reports that the tours run by his agency and its network of six branch offices throughout India has facilitated pilgrimages for more than 50,000 tourists to various religious sites in the country. According to Mr Negi, visits to popular religious sites such as Vaishnodevi and the temple at Tirupati constitute as much as 25% of Indias domestic tourism.

Christianity is the other religion fuelling growth in another Asian destination, the Philippines. Having provided its services for more than four decades in Southeast Asias most populous Catholic country, Catholic Travel, Inc. has positioned itself as the Pilgrimage Specialist.

According to Ms. Carmina Orbe, General Manager, most pilgrims are from the Philippines, and they also have pilgrims from Hong Kong, Rome, Canada and Los Angeles not only joining a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Israel) but having a pilgrimage in the Philippines. Priests that have joined our pilgrimages to the Holy Land have found a renewed inspiration in their vocational work for the community. I guess the visits have brought new meaning to the places and events in the Bible that they had only studied in the seminary previously.

Across Asia, missionary teams are also frequent travellers, with agencies such as World Vision and Youth With a Mission (YWAM), mobilising large numbers of people annually. For example, YWAM Singapore takes approximately 150 volunteers to developing countries in the region such as Myanmar, Indonesia and India, over five to ten such trips every year.

Fraternal travel

Although not as significant a market as educational or religious travel, a growing number of civil associations and groups such as Rotary International and Lions Club International have begun to look towards Asia as a possible destination for their international gatherings.

The Rotary Club held its international convention in Singapore, its first Southeast Asian venue in 1999, and again in Osaka, Japan in May 2004 for more than 45,000 Rotary club members from 96 countries. Lions Club International held its 88th International Convention in Hong Kong from 27 June to 1 July 2005, catering to approximately 20,000 Lions Club members and their accompanying family members and friends. This generated almost US$19 million of direct tourism spending and spin-off business for the retail, catering and tourism-related sectors.

Traditional MICE destinations such as Singapore and Hong Kong have paved the way for Asias rise as a conventions venue on the world stage. This has allowed emerging economies in Thailand, India and Vietnam to offer companies and fraternal associations more variety in their choice of meeting venues Mr Birch said.

Targeting the SMERFs

There are some commonly accepted issues in targeting the SMERF market says Abacus Mr Don Birch. For example recent cost increases in the Asia hotel sector which saw average room rates rise in major cities (for example 17% last year in Singapore) are not good news for SMERFs.

More meetings and higher hotel prices can limit options for SMERFS, but SMERF planners can still find open arms in markets such as second and third tier cities eager to lure back budget groups,said Mr Birch.

For sales and marketing managers within the industry, finding SMERF planners is harder than just finding Association planners.

Seeking local contacts that are affiliated with these types of groups is critical. Local networking is also needed to identify SMERF groups and their planners. Resources such as the research directories of organisations, affordable meetings conferences, and even the personal networks of a propertys employees all have their place in pinning down the SMERFs, Mr Birch said.

The internet also plays a key role as both a research and communication channel for both SMERF planners and sales and marketing teams.

The internet clearly improves the chances of buyers and sellers in the SMERF universe finding a good match on location, venue and the experiences to be offered during the period of travel, Mr Birch added.