Government AffairsNo quarantine or travel restrictions imposed for this 'milestone' scheme, which could kick off in a matter of weeks.

Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble poised for takeoff

Travel industry players in both cities have signalled their readiness to welcome visitors with safety protocols in place.
Travel industry players in both cities have signalled their readiness to welcome visitors with safety protocols in place. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board

Months after talks of travel bubbles were first mooted between governments in Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong have both reached a preliminary agreement that will exempt residents of both cities from quarantining or stay-at-home notices.

Details are currently being worked out, but it is expected that the in-principle air travel bubble agreement could take off as soon as in a couple of weeks, according to local media reports.

This milestone arrangement is expected to "help revive cross-border air travel between the two aviation hubs, in a safe and progressive way", according to a press release from the Singapore Ministry of Transport on Thursday.

Under this bilateral agreement, there will be no restrictions on travel purpose, while travellers will not be subject to any quarantines or controlled itinerary. 

Travellers, however, will need to test negative on mutually recognised Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. They will also be required to travel on flights dedicated for those travelling under the bubble.

Trade readies for rebound

The latest news come on the back of recent positive announcements from both governments in their gradual resumption of tourism to the cities.

Singapore, for instance, has given the green light for short sailings to resume from the city-state, beginning with offerings from Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises in November and December respectively.

Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), meanwhile, has responded to the latest announcement with its readiness to immediately roll out the Open House Hong Kong promotional campaign once the launch date of the air travel bubble is confirmed, said the board's chairman Dr YK Pang.

Supported by trade partners in various sectors, Open House Hong Kong encompasses a collection of competitive tactical offers in airfare and accommodations with a view to attract inbound visitors to Hong Kong, according to HKTB.

HKTB last week announced the launch of the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency, a standardised hygiene protocol for tourism related sectors that is aimed to bolster visitors’ confidence in travelling to the city.

Foreseeing safety will "among topmost concerns" for Singapore travellers when borders open up for tourism, Dynasty Travel's spokesperson Alicia Seah told Travel Weekly Asia that the travel agency is engaging with its overseas partners to stay updated on the safety and hygiene practices in the destinations.

"We will be working closely with tourism association to produce webinars with reopening advice for local attractions," she told Travel Weekly Asia. Topics include developing hygiene practices such as touchless experience and pre-booking time slots to attractions to reassure travellers, added Seah.

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