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More S'poreans heading to Brazil, but after World Cup

Travel agents are seeing more bookings to Brazil, but the increase is seen in travellers going after the World Cup.

SINGAPORE: It is exactly one month to the World Cup, which takes place from June 12 to July 13, and travel agents are seeing more bookings to Brazil.

However, the three-fold increase, compared to the same period last year, is seen in travellers going after the World Cup.

As to why, many travel agents point to hotel room rates going up by almost 10 times, and airfares by about 15 to 30 per cent.

They also say that demand to catch the matches in Brazil is not as high as in previous World Cups, especially when compared to when South Korea and Japan were hosts in 2002.

"The distance to Brazil is almost 20 hours via flight, which means you actually need about three days of flying in and out of the country,” said Alicia Seah, director of marketing communications at Dynasty Travel.

“Secondly, it's the high costs. The tour package to watch the world cup this year is about S$10,000 to S$15,000 per person which includes air tickets, four nights’ accommodation plus the match tickets."

But World Cup fever has clearly got newly-weds Simon Tam and Serena Tay hooked.

The two football fans held a football match for friends at the floating platform at Marina Bay as part of their pre-wedding festivities.

In addition, they will leave for their honeymoon next month -- a 23-day-long trip which includes a stop in Rio de Janeiro for a second round match.

"It is more expensive than the usual trips, like if you go to Europe or Japan or New Zealand,” said Serena Tay, who is an asset manager.

“We did quite a lot of research and we managed to find bargains here and there even for direct flights to Rio. There are so many airlines that you can fly to Rio.

“We also bought tickets directly from FIFA which also helped us to save a lot more money and it's once in a lifetime so we should just do it."

The couple is also taking all precautions to avoid street crime during their trip by keeping things low key.

Simon Tam, an accountant with a local bank said: "We would probably try to avoid public transport. I think we will take taxis, reputable taxis, as much as possible."

For fans and tourists who will join the festivities in Brazil, the Brazilian Embassy in Singapore assures travellers that, despite some concerns, security will not be an issue.

"I don't think that there is going to be an issue on the streets or in the stadiums because security is going to be tight enough on the streets, and the security safety issue in Brazil has improved a lot in the past few years,” said Octavio Lopes, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Brazil in Singapore.

“In the stadiums, stadium violence is usually prompted by club supporters and not by national team supporters, so it is going to be a big mix of people from all over the world and it's going to be a big party. Nothing to worry at all."

However, there are other precautions to be taken, such as getting vaccinated against yellow fever at least 10 days before travel.

"Yellow Fever is a mosquito bite infection,” said Associate Professor Lim Poh Lian, head of the Traveller’s Health and Vaccinations Clinic at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

“It's a viral infection that causes jaundice which is why it's called yellow fever. It affects the liver and the brain. The vaccine is a requirement, particularly if you want to return to Singapore. It is the Singapore government's requirement."

Other recommended vaccines, Dr Lim said, include food- and water-borne infections such as hepatitis A and typhoid, as well as infections for respiratory transmitted infections such as influenza and pertussis, which comes along with a tetanus vaccine.

If the traveller is over the age of 65, diabetic or has other medical conditions, she advises getting pneumococcal vaccine too.

"What we recommend actually depends upon people's medical conditions, what they have had before and where else they are travelling to in South America," said Dr Lim.

As always, she also advises packing other medications, depending on your health.

"The most common infection that people tend to run into is traveller’s diarrhoea, so it's generally a good idea to pack along something for diarrhoea,” said Dr Lim.

“Take food safety pre-cautions. Make sure everything that's eaten is cooked, water's boiled, try to avoid raw vegetables, unpeeled fruits, and avoid ice because ice is often made from tap water. People tend to forget that.

“Depending on your health condition and who you are travelling with, include pain medicine such as Panadol, over-the-counter cough syrup and some medicine for respiratory infections."

As the stadiums heat up with fans from around the world, more health advice is to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.  

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