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Travel & Holiday

Smile, you can get to Bhutan faster now

Travellers from Singapore will soon have a faster way to get to the "happiest place in the world", Bhutan.
The Straits Times - August 30, 2012
By: Maria Almenoar
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Smile, you can get to Bhutan faster now

TRAVELLERS from Singapore will soon have a faster way to get to the "happiest place in the world", Bhutan.

Drukair, the national carrier of Bhutan, will start twice-weekly flights from Singapore to the Bhutanese city of Paro from next month.

The one-way trip, which includes a 45-minute stopover in Kolkata, India, takes about six hours - less than half the time it now takes to get to Bhutan.

At present, passengers headed to Bhutan from Singapore have to stay overnight in either Bangkok or an Indian city.

Drukair chief executive Tandin Jamso said that adding Singapore to the airline's list of country stops would open up Bhutan's connectivity globally.

"Singapore, being a hub for those travelling from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Europe, means great growth for us," said Mr Tandin, who arrived on the inaugural flight on Tuesday.

He said Singapore was a large untapped market, with many Singaporeans and expatriates looking for holiday destinations.

Bhutan, which sits in the Himalayas between India and China, is known for inventing the idea of "gross national happiness" as a measurement of a country's development.

Travel agents say Singapore travellers are becoming more interested in exotic destinations for their holidays.

Bhutan, for example, has seen a 70 per cent increase in Singaporean visitors - from about 760 in 2010 to 1,300 last year.

Travellers to Bhutan are required to apply for a visa.

Ms Alicia Seah, senior vice- president of marketing and public relations for CTC Travel, said the new flights would "definitely increase interest in Bhutan".

The flights leave Singapore on Thursday and Sunday. Return flights are on Wednesday and Saturday. Tickets cost $1,208 for business class and $1,080 for economy class, excluding fees and surcharges - slightly more expensive than other current flight options.

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