April 26, 2004  (STAR) By Edu Jarque - It all happened the moment I laid my eyes upon the Singapore Girl – she with the gracious inscrutable, enigmatic smile – at London’s Madame Tussaud’s. I instantly realized that Singapore Airlines, which has successfully carved a reputation of excellence in the global aviation industry with its superior fleet, sterling service, stellar safety record and the unflagging support in promoting travels to our islands, has always been – and gladly so, as it continues to be, till today – an active partner in the growth of Philippine tourism.

This stature was reaffirmed yet again as it earned its third international airline of the year award in over a decade.

I remember when Singapore Airlines was honored its premier Kalakbay Award in 1992, deservingly nominated by the Cebu Travel Agents Association for its contribution to the burgeoning local tourism with its landmark effort as the original international foreign airline to fly to my birthplace of Cebu – initially twice weekly direct from the island nation and which has presently grown to daily flights. Soon, it expanded its route by shuttling foreign tourists, returning travelers and business investors with four of the services connecting to Davao via the sister regional carrier, Silkair. Today, Silkair is the only worldwide air transport that operates regular scheduled stopovers in Davao.

In 2001 and once more in 2003, SIA was commended for the success of its joint promotional programs and projects with the Philippine Department of Tourism.

At the most recent Kalakbay Awards ceremony, the National Tourist Office acknowledged SIA as the country’s most valued intercontinental airline collaborator for the exemplary contributions in promoting the Philippines as a favorite tourist destination with the assistance and cooperation of the headquarters in Singapore, its overseas offices, and stations particularly based in Europe.

Yes, they constantly opt to go the extra mile by not only rendering the best on-the-ground and in-the-air service wherever they are, but also by championing the development and advancement of Philippine tourism in every way they can.

Together with the DOT’s departmental initiatives and aggressive advocacy campaign, a surge in inbound traffic from SIA’s vast global network via Singapore is evident as it continues on its extensive sales marketing and promotional activities in aid of Philippine tourism by presenting our country’s best of the best to the international audience.

The airlines’ in-flight publications, the award-winning Silver Kris and the highly informative Silkairs’ Silkwinds continuously publish well-documented feature articles, illustrated with dramatic photographs on the Philippines’ unique tourist attractions without parallel, endearing people who care and its multi-faceted culture without compare. The magazines have done several prominent interesting pieces on the country’s bustling cities and beach hideaways, flamboyant fiestas and festivals, leading challenging golf courses and nothing-like-it dive spots, adventure trekking in the Mountain Province, shopping expeditions in Metro Manila, culinary finds in Cebu and Davao, and other fascinating write-ups.

Chosen members of the media were flown in – individually and in groups – by the airline and together were hosted by the Philippine Department of Tourism. Well-read writers and well-respected photographers from England, Germany, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece, Australia, and Singapore enthusiastically experienced firsthand the sun, sea, sand, and surf of Bohol, Boracay and Bantayan, resulting in a stream of come-and-visit-or-else-you-will-be-sorry inviting and compelling columns, articles, and spreads published in widely circulated broadsheet newspapers and in preferred glossy magazines in their respective countries.

Singapore Airlines, in cooperation with the international tourism programs of both the Philippine Department of Tourism and the Singapore Tourism Board, has likewise organized a string of extremely successful familiarization tours and ocular inspection trips where mega wholesalers and multiple travel agents from Europe and Australia, visited our archipelago and our Asean neighbor city state in a twin country educational look-and-see survey.

The air carrier regularly publishes call-to-attention print advertisements to further encourage tour operators and individual retailers to continue selling tour programs with itineraries that include our islands.

In efforts overseas to increase visitor arrivals from island-hopping holiday seekers to serious business investors, the airline hosts the journey of tourism officials and aids in the transporting of booth decors and additional collateral materials and indigenous giveaways to many travel fairs and tourism exhibitions — thus advancing the Philippines and Singapore as Asia’s top twin destinations.

Its most recent endeavor is to encourage domestic tourism by embarking on the Fly Global, Travel Local Tour Programs. This homecoming treat allows the passengers to avail of free vacation packages to some of our most desirable provincial destinations.

Truly, the sky is the limit for Singapore Airlines with its prolific output of projects, services, and opportunities to propel Philippine tourism to greater heights. Take a bow SIA, for being a model deserving of three Kalakbay awards. At the rate it is going, perhaps a fourth Kalakbay recognition is handily on its way.

* * *

Singapore Airlines, including Silkair and Singapore Airlines Cargo route network that covers 89 destinations in 38 countries, has nine destinations in Europe and five in Australia. The airline operates three times daily direct flights using the ultra modern B777 aircrafts between Manila and Singapore.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved