8 Significant Travel-Related Changes for Pinoys in 2013
8. Cebu Pacific flies to Dubai, Tokyo
Cebu Pacific has started having daily flights to Dubai—its 22nd international destination. This is great news for hundreds and thousands of Filipino OFWs who want go home more often, as well as their families who want to visit them.
The airline also revealed that they have extended their Japan operations (they only had Manila to Osaka prior to the announcement) to Tokyo (Narita) and Nagoya airports.
7. Philippine Airlines flies to London
It had been fifteen years since Philippine Airlines (PAL) last flew to Europe. This year, the company started having direct flights to London via Heathrow Airport, and is also reportedly looking into Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris and Rome.
6. Air Asia Zest rebranding
This year, Asia’s budget airline giant Air Asia Inc. merged with Zest Air, giving birth to Air Asia Zest.
The company announced improved changes on domestic and international destinations—there will now be daily flights to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Cebu, and there will also be more frequent flights to Cagayan de Oro and Davao (daily) and Puerto Princesa (four times a week).
Flights have also been moved from Clark, Pampanga to NAIA 4, the former Manila domestic terminal.
5. Air Asia Zest flies to Miri
Shortly after the rebranding, Air Asia Zest announced that they will start having flights to Miri, Malaysia’s second largest city. They will be the first and only airline in the country to do so.
They kicked off with a “free seats” (which means the passenger only needed to pay for fuel surcharge, taxes, and fees) promo in October. They also announced that starting this month, Manila to Kota Kinabalu flights will operate daily.
4. Hong Kong visa
Last month, Hong Kong lawmakers have reportedly voted to cancel the 14-day visa-free access to Filipinos. This is linked to the issue of the Manila bus hostage crisis that happened three years ago, where eight Hong Kong nationals were killed by a former police officer.
Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying said that the Hong Kong government, which is asking for an apology and compensation for the victims’ families, may soon impose economic sanctions against the Philippines.
The DFA says in its website that Filipinos who are planning on going to Hong Kong should monitor the news regularly. As of posting time, however, a visa-free entry is still valid.
3. Visa-free entry to Burma for Filipinos
Burma (Myanmar), a country that is slowly getting out of military clutches that has controlled it for 50 years, is opening its doors to Filipinos.
Filipino ordinary passport holders can now enter the country visa-free for 14 days. The visa can be obtained upon arrival at the Yangon International Airport, or at the Mandalay International Airport.
(Author’s note: I went to the Burmese capital Yangon and province Bagan last year, and it easily became one of the most memorable trips of my life. I’d say go now, before it gets too crowded.)
2. Goodbye, music tourism?
Many music-obsessed Filipinos travel thousands of miles just to see their favorite bands play live.
The current state of foreign band performances in the Philippines, however, bespeaks potential, and may soon decrease the music crazies’ need to watch concerts overseas. In January, it’s Phoenix, in February, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will headline the 7107 Festival, Mogwai and The National will be here for FebFest, and in late February/early March, Malasimbo Music Festival 2014 will feature acts like Jose Gonzalez and Robert Glasper Experiment.
1. Tourism after Haiyan
Typhoon Yolanda destroyed many beautiful islands and attractions in central Philippines, denting the area’s tourism industry. Rebuilding would be a very difficult task, but if everyone would do their part in contributing to relief efforts and rehabilitation, we can get there faster.