Best & Worst 2017

Best & Worst 2017: Travel

Scoot is increasing the number of its long-haul destinations this year.
Scoot is increasing the number of its long-haul destinations this year. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEST

Scoot's long-haul launches

Budget-conscious travellers who want to travel to Europe and America have a new best friend in Scoot this year, which is increasing the number of its long-haul destinations and in Boeing 787 Dreamliners, no less.

The low-cost carrier of Singapore Airlines Group launched two new routes - direct flights from Singapore to Athens and flights to Honolulu via Osaka.

Next year, it will be flying to Berlin directly from Singapore.

Scoot's network now comprises 62 destinations across 16 countries.

Changi Airport's Terminal 4

What's not to like about Changi Airport's T4?

It looks fantastic, for one thing. It has kinetic art sculptures, a heritage zone with Peranakan shopfronts and an immersive, animated wall with scenic views of Singapore to keep travellers entertained during security.


PHOTO: ST FILE

It is also amazingly high-tech. Setting the international aviation scene abuzz is its new automated Fast and Seamless Travel system, which offers travellers self-service options (above) at every stage of departure, from check-in to boarding, with a facial recognition system that captures a passenger's photo at different stations along the way.

Because less manpower is needed in this automated process, operating costs are lowered for airlines. The cost-savings will hopefully be passed on to passengers in the form of cheaper airfares.

Growth of sustainable tourism

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development - and this year has indeed seen a shift in mindset and consumer patterns.

Sustainable tourism refers to tourism industry practices that do not harm the environment or exploit the local population.

Travellers these days are more likely to choose accommodation they know are eco-friendly, according to Booking.com's Sustainable Travel Report, which was published last year.

Thousands of hotels have also partnered international environmental consultancies such as Green Key, EarthCheck and Greenview, which help hotels reduce waste, water and energy use, as well as invest in the local community, according to a Straits Times article published earlier this year.

 

WORST

Eruption of Mount Agung

Tourism to Bali, one of the world's most popular destinations, is suffering, thanks to the continuing eruption of Bali's Mount Agung.

December is typically one of the island's peak periods, but only 25 per cent of its hotel rooms are currently occupied, according to Bloomberg, which reported that Bali's tourism industry is losing about $24.3 million a day from cancellations.

When seismic rumblings began in September, more than 40,000 people living in the foothills of the volcano were evacuated.

Last month, smoke and ash forced the airport to close. Hundreds of flights were also suspended, leaving more than 50,000 tourists stranded.

Weeks later, Mount Agung is still puffing and officials say Bali could experience a major eruption at any time, prompting tourists to cancel their vacation plans, even though the major tourism hot spots of Ubud and Kuta are more than 30km away from the evacuation zone and are at minimal risk.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 17, 2017, with the headline 'Travel'. Print Edition | Subscribe