The newly launched Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Singapore and Germany has kicked off smoothly for travel agencies since September 8, three weeks following its August 19 announcement. It is a pilot scheme with Germany being the first quarantine-free, long-haul destination to open its borders to fully vaccinated travellers.
We have the largest pool of experienced tour managers in Singapore, and we had two sets of emergency response teams in Singapore and in the destination to stand-by for urgent situations.
EU Holidays led the way with Singapore’s first leisure tour group which departed on 22 September. The 12-day itinerary started in Munich and covered other cities such as Stuttgart and Frankfurt.
Director of EU Holidays Ong Hanjie said that being prepared for the unknown was a top priority to ensure the safety of its travellers: “We have the largest pool of experienced tour managers in Singapore, and we had two sets of emergency response teams in Singapore and in the destination to stand-by for urgent situations.” This is in addition to the necessary sanitisation procedures conducted by the tour manager.
Ong added that he has three more departures from now till year end, and confirmed that travellers who had previously preferred free and easy vacations are now turning to organised tours for ease of mind. “There will be an uptrend in demand for more tours departing from Singapore to other countries when more VTLs are announced by the government. As a forerunner, I believe we will gain the confidence of travellers when they eventually consider a travel partner for their long overdue vacation.”
At Dynasty Travel, Director of Marketing Communications Alicia Seah shared that they have seen more enquiries for the November and December period. “Travellers are keen to visit during the autumn/winter seasons to experience the festive mood of famous Christmas markets in Germany, which are scheduled to start from around 19 November till 23 December. She added that travellers are primarily small groups of friends and relatives requesting for customised tour programmes.
The numbers bode well for leisure travel
According to ForwardKeys, a leading travel analytics firm, Singapore to Germany air tickets reached 93% of 2019 levels. “The Singapore to Germany air bookings reflect a considerable amount of pent-up demand from the leisure segment. For both directions, around 70% are return tickets, indicating a sizeable pie of short-term visitors,” said Jameson Wong, Vice President Strategic Clients & Partnerships APAC at ForwardKeys.
The Singapore to Germany air bookings reflect a considerable amount of pent-up demand from the leisure segment. For both directions, around 70% are return tickets, indicating a sizeable pie of short-term visitors.
Data from ForwardKeys’ Destination Gateway also revealed that the biggest proportion of travellers from Singapore to Germany are leisure travellers, accounting for 76% of all travellers, up from 43% in 2019.
“From quarantine-free fine prints, traveller confidence, timing, clarity of information, and attractiveness of the destination to the ease of making travel arrangements, the stars seem to be well aligned for long-haul, outbound leisure travel to truly restart,” said Wong.
Ema Mandal, ForwardKeys Insights Specialist, said that the average length of stay for leisure travellers has grown by 2 days from 13 days in 2019 to 15 days.
“We thought the metric would have lengthened significantly given the prolonged halt on long-haul. But it seems the travellers from Singapore to Germany are ‘warming up’, playing it safe and have not yet started to take advantage of the fact that one can take domestic flights within Germany without affecting the return VTL eligibility, which could have driven up the length of stay,” Mandal said.