Singapore tourists have higher language expectations on retail, hotel staff than regional travellers: Survey, Singapore News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – Most Singaporeans travelling overseas expect service staff in shops or hotels to speak a language they understand, a sharp contrast to other tourists from the Asia-Pacific region, a survey has found.

Some 84 per cent of Singaporeans expect this, compared to just 47 per cent for travellers across the region.

The findings released on Wednesday (Aug 16) by Amadeus, which provides technology services to travel companies, were from an online poll in May of 6,870 people from 14 markets in the Asia-Pacific region, with 300 from Singapore.

The big difference in language expectations between Singaporean travellers and those in the region could be due to how people here tend to communicate.

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Dr Michael Chiam, a senior tourism lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said: “We have been too accustomed with communicating in English. So when thrown into a new circumstance, we tend to fumble.

“Comparatively, the Asia-Pacific traveller is more likely to be exposed to a variety of languages and dialects. They tend to be able to speak a variety of languages, though it may be limited.” As a result, Dr Chiam said these travellers may not have the same language expectations as those here.

That Singaporeans are used to being in their comfort zone was noted by teacher Reuben Phay, who recently travelled to Europe.

Mr Phay, 31, said that going by observations from his past overseas trips with other Singapore tourists, “we tend to remain in our comfort zone, expecting others to adapt to our needs, instead of embracing their culture”.

Singapore travellers also relied on the Government or Singapore embassies as their top source to provide safety or security updates when travelling, the survey found, with 74 per cent preferring this, compared to 45 per cent in the Asia-Pacific.

They are also unlikely to entertain phone calls that provide travel updates or recommendations, compared to travellers in the region.

Only 1 per cent of Singaporeans preferred phone calls, compared to 7 per cent from the Asia-Pacific region.

However, the No. 1 mode in which Singaporeans preferred to get travel updates was via e-mail , with 53 per cent of respondents here saying so. Regionally, the number stands at 35 per cent.

Ms Deborah Ng, 21, a law student from the Singapore Management University (SMU), said phone calls can be inconvenient to answer, especially when one is in class or at work.

“On the other hand, methods such as e-mails and SMS do not have the same sense of urgency and allow us to read through the information at our own time,” said Ms Ng.

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