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By Kaye Estoista-Koo

With recent news coming out from Henley and Partners (a firm specializing in residence and citizenship planning) that the Philippine passport has become stronger this 2018 with visa-free travel to 63 countries or with the Passport Index from Arton Capital where the Philippine passport holds the 67th passport power rank, Pinoy travelers are now more empowered and encouraged to see the world than ever before.

Fly high Singapore Airlines is offering all its roundtrip fare to Singapore for $150; Ambassador to the Philippines Kok Li Peng; and Singapore Airlines GM Balagopal Kunduvara

Ambassador to the Philippines Kok Li Peng; and Singapore Airlines GM Balagopal Kunduvara

Until Jan. 28, the Singapore Airlines (SIA) fifth installment of its Showcase and Travel Fair is offering exclusive deals on all-in round-trip fares from Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Kalibo to 84 destinations in the SIA network. As if that wasn’t enough incentive, the fair is being held in two locations simultaneously in Glorietta and TriNoma for the first time in five years.

Intended for travel fair customers, an all-in, round-trip fare to Singapore from Manila at $150 is quite possibly the best deal in town. This comes with free 30kg baggage allowance, a delicious inflight meal, inflight entertainment, and earning KrisFlyer mileage points. Having booked this deal several years in a row, once you start flying Singapore Airlines, you will always look for and want it.

Other rewards waiting for travel fair customers include real 0 percent interest on BPI credit cards, an SGD 60 dollar Changi gift card for every two round-trip tickets (same destination) or one person purchasing two round-trip tickets to select destinations, 500 bonus KrisFlyer miles for round-trip tickets to select destinations, an SGD20 dollar voucher for destinations beyond Singapore, boarding pass privileges at select shopping and dining outlets, and the chance to win 50,000 KrisFlyer miles.

Herself a known traveler, event host Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi shares how she likes to plan a year ahead and was able to book 33 tickets for her family’s big trip to South Africa at last year’s travel fair.

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Fly high Singapore Airlines is offering all its roundtrip fare to Singapore for $150

SIA group now flies to 134 destinations in Singapore and Southeast Asia, North Asia, West Asia and Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, Europe, and North America totaling 37 countries SIA general manager Philippines Balagopal Kunduvara is proud of their last quarter 2017 achievement of launching the new A380 luxury cabin suite for the Sydney route to be followed by London and Hong Kong sometime this 2018. As if that isn’t enough of an accomplishment, SIA is acquiring 39 new Boeings this year in order to offer more flights in existing and new routes.

He recalls how the showcase and travel fair started, this year being his first as General Manager, “It was intended as a humble way to showcase the product, service, and networks we at SIA have to offer and we have come a long way.”

Last December, he shares how they were able to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Tourism in order to bring traffic to the country from a new international market.

“The idea is to push to the Indian market the destinations and holidays in all the SIA flights from India. SIA has the largest network of any foreign carrier for flights coming out of India and we believe the Philippines is a destination we can promote a lot more to that market,” he says.

Mr. Kundavara, an Indian-born Singaporean, admits this tie-up is close to his heart but that this new agreement took one year in the making, even before he came on board as the general manager.

Filipino travelers, as per his observation, have also definitely increased travel to Australia the past couple of years and are now shifting more and more to destinations in Europe, South Africa, and Japan.

“We still see peak seasons but we see Filipinos making more trips too, even off-peak, as people don’t mind taking more holidays, and SIA wants to be there for the traveler who is discerning and after excellent on-ground and inflight service.”

SIA is already fondly spoken of for its inflight meals, and last year, Mr. Kundavara says, “We affirmed our commitment to sustainable dining practices with our farm-to-plane gourmet menu plans where we use sustainable ingredients that are of high-quality.”

Singapore’s Ambassador to the Philippines Kok Li Peng, recalls a time when travel between Singapore and Philippines used to take weeks and months by boat. Now that the most efficient way is by air, she says, “We need good air connectivity as this plays a role in each country’s development, enabling steady growth of trade, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges.”

She continues, “Singapore is connected to six Philippine destinations with 163 weekly flights but there is room to do more.” SIA, for example has four daily flights to the Philippines, and they are hoping to bring that to five with the growing demand from the business and tourism sector.

“Key to connectivity are Singaporean companies who seek opportunities with their counterparts in the Philippines and with President Duterte’s Build Build Build program in upgrading and maintaining airports, we can see more runway expansion and better terminals.”

Travel, a character-building habit, as it opens each one to new possibilities and ideas, is definitely not as expensive as before and the Singapore Airlines Showcase & Travel Fair 2018 is a perfect place to start and experience the best in travel.

Travel period for all tickets is January 29-Dec. 31, 2018, available on-site in Glorietta and TriNoma until Jan. 28.

Tags: Philippine destinations, Philippine passport, Singapore Airlines, Travel Fair

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