• Cheaper currencies
A slew of currencies fell or stayed low against the Singapore dollar this year, including the Malaysian ringgit, Japanese yen, Russian rouble, euro and South African rand. This has stretched the Singapore travel dollar. From exquisite ryokan stays to luxury shopping in Europe to Cape Town winery circuits, travel costs were relatively lower this year.
• New A350 XWB flights
Qatar Airways was the first airline to fly the game-changing A350 XWB (Xtra Wide Body) commercially in January on its Doha-Frankfurt route. There are three daily flights to Doha from Singapore. Travellers enjoy spacious cabins that are enhanced by domed ceilings with LED mood lighting, which helps regulate the body clock. Each plane is fitted with large panoramic windows.
Airbus says the planes - built with light, advanced composite materials and powered by quiet Rolls-Royce Trent engines - are 25 per cent more eco-efficient than other planes in the category. This is a plus for carriers competing for long-haul business, including Singapore Airlines, which will operate its first A350 early next year.
• Resort boom
Singapore-based resort brands have actively planted plush properties near and far. Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, which owns the flagship Banyan Tree and Angsana, launched casual chic Cassia for extended stays in Phuket and announced that its design-centric Dhawa resorts will open in Hainan, China and Cuba next year.
Other award-winning resort groups, known for their emphasis on luxury and wellness, have opened or announced openings of new properties. The list includes Como Hotels & Resorts and Unlisted Collection, which both set up their first Australian boutique hotels this year.
• Terrorist assaults
France, the most visited country in the world, is idealised for its beauty, culture and love of life, so the Nov 13 terrorist assault on Paris seemed singularly chilling for travellers and admirers.
Other terrorist attacks included the downing of a Russian jet in Turkey last month and suicide bombings in Lebanon the day before the Paris horror.
The reality is that the world is a more threatening place now and it is the new normal for travellers to stay vigilant while globe-trotting.