Singapore’s new “vaccinated itineraries” sparked a spate of flight inquiries as city-state residents seek to take advantage of the easing of international travel policies.
The search for cities within the so-called VTLs of Singapore has doubled – and in some cases almost tripled, according to the Expedia Group. It came after government officials announced the opening of new quarantine-free travel routes to countries in Europe, North America and Asia.
Last week, Singapore announces quarantine-free travel with Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain and the USA from October 19th – as well South Korea from November 15th. The requirements include that travelers are vaccinated prior to entry and must take Covid-19 tests to ensure they do not become infected.
With the announcement, the island state’s VTL program, which currently includes Germany and Brunei, has been significantly expanded.
According to the news, the search interest of Singapore residents increased from week to week:
- Seoul, South Korea – 180%
- Vancouver, Canada – 160%
- Frankfurt, Germany – 130%
- London, United Kingdom – 120%
- Los Angeles, United States – 80%
Expedia’s managing director for Asia said the searches mark a shift in consumer demand for international travel. In August, the most searched cities in Singapore were regional hotspots such as Japan, Hong Kong, Maldives and Taiwan.
Visitors walk through a terminal at Singapore Changi Airport on December 7, 2020.
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“The VTLs definitely have an impact on how people think about travel, where they want to go and how they plan their trip,” Choo Pin Ang told CNBC “Capital connection” Tuesday.
However, he added that he expects more traditional destinations to gain popularity as further easing is announced. Search queries in Singapore for year-end trips to VTL and non-VTL destinations from June to October have already tripled.
I don’t think we’re going to go back to regressive lockdowns and people who cannot travel
Amit saber whale
Founder and CEO, Reddoorz
This is good news for the ailing travel industry. From Wednesday, Singapore Airlines The stock price rose more than 9% during the week Shares of SATS – which provides ground and in-flight catering services at Singapore Changi Airport – increased by around 5%.
“It’s happy days again,” Amit Saberwal, founder and CEO of the Southeast Asian budget hotel chain RedDoorz, told CNBC on Wednesday. “Though it’s still in its infancy, I don’t think we’ll go back to a regressive lockdown and people won’t be able to travel … I think it’s our moment to shine again.”
More quarantine-free itineraries are expected in the coming months, including some in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Singapore officials.
Australia, New Zealand and Japan should be there, as well as some “homeland” countries in Southeast Asia, Ang said.
Thailand on Monday announced plans to lift quarantine restrictions on vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries, including Singapore, from November.
“What will really determine whether VTLs can work is the strong economic ties between Singapore and these countries, vaccination rates and the progress that countries have made in containing Covid,” he said.
Nevertheless, headwinds remain. With travel restrictions evolving and the daily VTL arrivals in Singapore currently capped at 3,000, travelers should be “nimble” by making flexible bookings and purchasing travel insurance including Covid before departure.
– Shubhangi Goel contributed to this report.