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BEST & WORST 2016

Best and worst 2016: Travel

BEST

• Cheaper currencies

Both the British pound and the Malaysian ringgit took a beating this year - good news for Singaporeans hoping to get more bang for their buck in these destinations.

After the British electorate voted to leave the European Union in June, the pound fell to its lowest level against the US dollar in more than 30 years and has fallen against the Singapore dollar too. The exchange rate now hovers around $1.80 to the pound, compared with $2.15 last year.

The ringgit has also fallen from RM1 to 38 Singapore cents early last year, to 32 Singapore cents now.
 

• Rise of the A350

The proliferation of the Airbus A350, said to be the most fuel-efficient aircraft in its class, has been a game-changer this year for airlines and travellers rallying for the return of ultra-long-range flights.

The A350, which claims to use 25 per cent less fuel than its competitors, has allowed Singapore Airlines (SIA) to resume its non-stop service to the US for the first time since 2013, when the airline stopped its non-stop flights to New York and Los Angeles because of high fuel costs.

SIA began its non-stop service from Singapore to San Francisco in October and has announced plans to resume its non-stop flights to New York and Los Angeles when it receives the ultra-long-haul variation of the A350 in 2018.
 

• More destinations

This year, airlines introduced flights from Singapore to more than a dozen destinations. In March, Air Mauritius launched non-stop flights to Port Louis, the capital of the island nation in the Indian Ocean. Then Fiji Airways launched non-stop flights to Nadi in April, connecting Singapore with Fiji and other South Pacific destinations such as Vanuatu for the first time.

At home, SIA added non-stop flights to Canberra, San Francisco, Manchester and Dusseldorf.

Scoot took over Tigerair's services to Guangzhou and Chennai and started services to destinations such as Amritsar, Jeddah and Sapporo. Meanwhile, Tigerair expanded its footprint with new non-stop flights to Zhengzhou and Wuxi in China, and SilkAir added routes to places such as Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos.
 

WORST

• Terrorism

Terrorist attacks took their toll around the world again this year, causing tourism to suffer in affected areas. Bombs and shootings killed and wounded hundreds from France to Yemen, Nigeria to Germany.

Increased violence in Turkey has caused the country to suffer its worst tourism year on record.

Hundreds died in a failed coup in July and bombings by the Kurdish Freedom Hawks have killed more than 100 people in Istanbul, capital Ankara and in the country's south-eastern provinces. A bombing by a member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in Sultanahmet Square, a popular tourist area, also took 13 lives in January.

The most recent statistics released by Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism show a 26 per cent overall decline in the country's visitorship in the first nine months of the year, compared with last year, and the tourism industry is expected to suffer billions of dollars in losses.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 18, 2016, with the headline 'Travel'. Print Edition | Subscribe