Government AffairsMinisters ready to discuss a travel bubble once everyone is vaccinated.

Bubbling up: Singapore-Australia travel talks

Singaporeans could be visiting Sydney before year’s end.
Singaporeans could be visiting Sydney before year’s end. Photo Credit: Getty Images/IakovKalinin

Talks aimed at launching a travel bubble between Singapore and Australia are expected to start within weeks.

Confirmation that Australia’s trade and tourism minister Dan Tehan has discussed the issue with his Singaporean counterpart, trade minister Chan Chun Sing, are raising hopes of a bubble emerging later this year.

The Australian tourism minister hopes to progress the travel proposal when he visits Singapore in the next few months.

“Singapore is very keen to work with Australia on a proof of vaccination certificate and we agreed our officials should work together on this,” Tehan said.

“I’m scheduled to travel to Singapore in the coming months and this will be a key topic of discussions as we seek to explore a travel bubble with Singapore.”

Under tentative proposals, Australians would be allowed to travel to Singapore without approval from the Australian home affairs department provided they have been vaccinated for coronavirus.

Singaporeans who have been vaccinated would be able to travel to Australia without having to undergo two weeks of hotel quarantine.

In an interview with the BBC broadcast on Sunday, Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said he hoped Singapore would open its borders by the end of the year.

“I hope if many countries can have substantial proportions of their populations vaccinated by later this year, we will be able to have the confidence, and to have developed the systems, to open up our international borders to travel safely again,” Lee said.

Much will depend on both sides recognising the validity of vaccination certificates, while carriers Singapore Airlines and Qantas would need to ramp up their services between Singapore and Australia.

Australia believes a travel bubble with Singapore would increase the number of airline seats available to bring an estimated 40,000 Aussies home from overseas where they are currently stranded.

Plus, both countries would benefit from a flow of tourists and business travel in each direction.

Both Singapore and Australia postponed planned travel bubbles —Singapore with Hong Kong and Australia with New Zealand — when fresh infections of Covid-19 put the brakes on international travel.

Singapore has already opened a pilot accommodation facility, [email protected], to allow the limited resumption of international business meetings.

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