SINGAPORE – Air travel bubbles require both sides to have “full confidence” in each other and Singapore needs to be in the right position before measures are further eased, the country’s director general of tourism said.
“We fully support what (Education Secretary Lawrence Wong) said about the need for Singapore to meet some of the requirements before we can move into phase three,” said Keith Tan of the Singapore Tourism Board on Friday.
In April, Singapore was partially locked in what was known as the “breaker”. These restrictive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus have been gradually lifted.
Singapore began the second phase of its reopening in mid-June when most businesses were allowed to reopen and small social gatherings were allowed.
Wong, who is part of Singapore’s task force on Covid-19, said Tuesday the city-state could move into the third phase of its reopening before the end of the year, according to local media. However, this depends on the Singaporeans continuing to adhere to safe distancing measures and improving testing facilities.
Tan, the STB chief, spoke on CNBCs “Squawk Box Asia” and said that meeting these conditions will be important for revitalizing tourism in the country.
“This is vital because … in order for these air bubbles to work, both sides – Singapore and another city we may be negotiating with – must have full confidence in each other, full confidence in our health infection control,” he said.
“If we screw it up, we can forget about other air travel bubbles, which is why we have to meet these conditions before we move on to phase three,” he added.
Singapore and Hong Kong announced this week that it is The quarantine-free vacation travel contract begins on November 22nd. A flight carries a maximum of 200 passengers per day to each city.
Travelers must have a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of departure, and those arriving in Hong Kong are required to take a second test.
Tan said he was encouraged by the response in both cities. “You can see Singaporeans buying tickets to travel to Hong Kong,” he said.
Online travel services platform Trip.com said Hong Kong is looking to Singapore grew 300% in the three hours after the details were posted on November 11th. The flight search volume from Singapore to Hong Kong increased by 200%.
“I’m not entirely surprised because both Hong Kongers and Singaporeans are pretty confined in their respective homes,” said Tan.
“The opportunity to travel to visit friends and relatives in both cities is very attractive,” he added. “Ultimately, we feel safe traveling to both cities because there is a high level of trust in the health checks on both sides.”
A total of 58,102 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Singapore and 28 deaths on November 12th. A total of 5,431 cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong and 108 deaths.