By : Ridzwan Fernandez
KUALA TERENGGANU, Malaysia: Terengganu expects more tourists from Singapore now that budget airline Firefly had added the Kuala Terengganu-Singapore route to its network.
Terengganu's natural attractions such as Lake Kenyir and islands off the South China Sea are popular leisure destinations for Singaporeans.
Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said believes Firefly's direct service from the state capital would bring in more tourists from the republic.
"We can expect a boost in arrivals due to this service. It will attract not only Singaporeans but other international tourists who are already there as well."
Speaking at a briefing by Firefly officials on its new service route, Ahmad said an increase in arrivals would also help boost the tourism industry in the mainland and generate further spin-offs for local businessmen.
The timing of the flights was such that visitors were most likely to spend a night here before heading off to the islands or Kenyir the next day.
"This means more business for the local hotels here, besides giving tourists ample time to shop around for local products such as our famous batik and dried keropok (fish crackers)."
Firefly has scheduled July 14 for its first flight to Singapore from here and will fly the route three times a week.
The flights depart from the Sultan Mahmud International airport here at 3.30pm and arrive at the Changi budget terminal at 4.45pm.
FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd managing director Eddy Leong said the new route reflected the airline's commitment to help spur Terengganu's tourism industry and attract investments.
Besides the current twice-a- day flights to Subang from here, Firefly also flies from Subang to Kerteh, mostly catering to those in the oil and gas industry.
Firefly will add four other new routes to its network soon, beginning with flights from Subang to Singapore, followed by Ipoh-Singapore, Kuantan-Singapore and Malacca-Singapore.
On its suspended Kuala Terengganu-Penang service, Leong said the airline hoped to revive the route once there were positive signs of an economic turnaround and when it had added more aircraft to its fleet of six new ATR72-500 planes.
"We are hoping to revive this sector by the year-end or early next year," he said.