THE Department of Tourism (DOT) and Philippine Airlines (PAL) formally launched on Saturday the Philippine flag carrier’s new direct flights from Singapore to Cebu, a few hours after President Rodrigo Duterte left for Manila following his two-day State Visit to the Lion City.
A fully booked PAL PR 518 made its maiden flight from the Changi International Airport to Cebu at 2:45 a.m., with mostly Filipinos on board, who are taking the holiday break in the Philippines.
The DOT sealed the deal with PAL as part of its route development program and policy thrust of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo to further develop and promote international gateways in the country.
Meanwhile, Teo led the send-off ceremony of the PAL CEB-SIN at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) with PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista and other airline and airport officials.
“The lifeblood of Philippine tourism is connectivity. We are an archipelago and most of the tourists can reach us only by air. That is why I consider initiatives like this as critical to the continuing development of our tourism market. We are opening more gateways and with it, wider access for visitors,” the tourism chief said.
“Cebu is a premier city of the Visayas. Its continuing fame as a destination is unquestioned. We now have the chance to make this not only a main tourist attraction but also a major hub from which travelers can hop to as many destinations in the country as possible,” Teo added.
Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Antonio Morales hopes that this inaugural flight, which comes on the heels of President Duterte’s Singapore trip, “will further entice Singaporean citizens and permanent residents to visit the Philippines,” referring to the Philippine leader as an “effective tourism ambassador” with a strong following and appeal to many Singaporean masses, locals or expats alike.
The four-times weekly SIN-CEB will be available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, while the CEB-SIN on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Flight PR 518 will leave SIN at 2:45 a.m. and arrive in CEB at 6:40 a.m., while PR 517 will depart CEB at 10 p.m. and be in SIN by 1:45 a.m.
PAL, earlier announced its discounted round trip airfares from Cebu to Singapore and back at $130, with travel tax of $68, which can be used until end-December this year for travel until mid-March 2017.
PAL joins Air Asia, Silk Air, Cebu Pacific, and Tiger Airways in serving Cebu to Singapore destination bringing the total number of flights from MCIA to Singapore to 31.
The latest data from DOT, showed arrivals from Singapore accounted for over 133,000 tourists from January to September 2016 placing it on the pole position in Asean and seventh among the Philippines’ top source markets for international visitors, which contributes 2.99 percent to the total market share.