Spreading care and compassion across borders

As travel agencies big and small look to a significant rebound in vacation travel bookings to boost profitability, a Singapore-based tour operator is switching to travelers looking to give back or practice their faith on vacation.

From life liberation day trips that bring marine life back to the sea, to trips to Batam, Indonesia to offer the less privileged villagers some everyday necessities, Ik Chin Travel prides itself on being a progressive company that… adaptable to the evolving needs of its customers.

Kok: In times of need, people lend a helping hand to support one another

The Covid-19 pandemic has given us an opportunity to stop and “see” compassion for what it is – an engine of change in an otherwise (mostly) apathetic world. According to Kok Jin Dao, General Manager at Ik Chin Travel, before 2020 and now, there has been a rethink among customers.

“There are so many stories of kindness during the pandemic; In times of need, people extend a helping hand to support one another,” Kok said. “When we started, we struggled to gather groups due to the fear of the pandemic, but over time we saw more people signing up for our tours.”

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Kok credits the change in the travel agency’s business focus to the founders’ belief in Buddhism. Her organized trips include annual visits to make offerings to the Buddhist sangha community in Malacca. Ik Chin also organizes Buddhism related visits to India.

“A key difference from our travel agency is that many of the tours we arrange have some Buddhist influence,” he said. “For example, our life release tours will include a Buddhist ritual before the lives (sea or wildlife) are released back to their communities.”

By organizing such tours to enable others to earn merit, the founders and staff of Ik Chin hope to contribute to the good deeds themselves.

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“We have found that there are many people who want to do good but cannot find an opportunity to do so – by introducing them to our services, they are willing to sign up for such trips to do good with like-minded tour members ‘ he explained.

Ik Chin Travel organizes trips to provide the less fortunate with the daily necessities; Charity trip to Batam pictured

While these journeys are unlikely to transform the lives of the less privileged overnight, Kok believes in the virtuous circle of caring and compassion. He shared, “As human relationships become more transactional, we hope that through these journeys people will be able to open their hearts more to care for and love others.”

In fact, vacations don’t have to be grand to be meaningful, and travelers can also find it rewarding to treat themselves to a trip to help others. With more destinations and themes popping up at Ik Chin, travelers looking to get a boost of endorphins by helping others have more choices to choose from.

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Ik Chin plans to organize tours to support the less fortunate students in Malacca and host visits to a village in Chiang Mai where clients will spend time interacting with and supporting local villagers and students – from From cooking a meal to offering daily or school necessities.

“On vacation we can leave everyday life behind and enjoy, switch off and recharge our batteries. It’s the perfect time to do good – not only can we do it wholeheartedly, we can share genuine joy and love with others,” Kok said.