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SIA to deliver tourists to new destinations

by August 27, 2016 General

Time to travel: People visit a travel agency booth at the 2016 Singapore Airlines-BCA Travel Fair at Gandaria City Mall in Jakarta on Friday. The event will run until Sunday.(JP/Donny Fernando)

Singapore Airlines (SIA) plans to bring tourists to Indonesia’s new tourist destinations as it seeks to partner with domestic travel agencies.

The airline, which by next year will have flown aircraft into Indonesia for 70 years, acknowledged that the government has been trying to promote the 10 emerging destinations to attract visitors, destinations like scenic Lake Toba in North Sumatra and Mandalika, near Lombok, in West Nusa Tenggara.

With existing flight routes connecting Singapore and about 13 destinations in Indonesia, including to Medan in North Sumatra through its regional arm Silk Air, SIA seeks to cooperate with travel agents to help tourists get to the emerging destinations from their nearest flight destination.

“We are not just here to sell tickets. We want people to visit ‘Wonderful Indonesia’. We are in position to help achieve that goal,” SIA Indonesian general manager Edwin Chiang said on Friday.

The airline signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tourism Ministry in April, in which it agreed to support the “Wonderful Indonesia” campaign currently promoted by the ministry.

The government has pledged to attract 20 million foreign tourists by 2019, an increase from 10.41 million in 2015.

Singapore Airlines will use its current global network as well — in which it flies to 99 destinations in 34 countries — to help the campaign and establish connectivity for tourists, as there are still countries that are not connected by direct flights to Indonesia.

It currently flies a Jakarta-Singapore route nine times daily and the frequency has increased from eight flights per day in 2013.

Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) show that the number of Singaporean tourists is among the highest. As many as 746,401 tourists visited Indonesia during the first six months of this year, a slight decrease from 764,044 tourists during the same period last year.

That was higher than the number of Australian tourists, 572,362 of whom visited from January to June.

Meanwhile, despite its commitment to aid Indonesia’s tourism, Chiang said that there would not be any major expansions this year.

“We always evaluate whenever there’s a chance to operate in certain places. It’s about aircraft resources, timeliness and the market conditions. Right now there’s no immediate plan for any new [route]. We already fly to 13 points in Indonesia,” he said.

He said the airline has faced changes that have happened in Indonesia in the last 12 months, including ticket prices that were first billed in US dollars, but are now charged in rupiah and uncertainty in the economy.

The company is optimistic that things are stable and economic activities will soon pick up.

SIA Indonesia public relations manager Glory Henriette said that the company had ordered 63 Airbus A350 that would be delivered by 2019. It has welcomed five aircraft so far.

“We can use it for short-haul flights, such as Jakarta-Singapore, but we also can use it for long-haul direct flight to San Francisco and later Los Angeles and New York.”

The airline plans to operate a non-stop flight from Singapore to San Francisco, US, and Manchester, UK, in October.

It also plans to add a second flight on the Singapore-Los Angeles route, with a transit point in Seoul, South Korea. The new flight will complement an existing one with a transit point in Narita, Japan.