Singapore’s “vaccinated travel itinerary” sees Expedia’s flight search soaring

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Singapore’s new “vaccinated travel route” has triggered a series of flight inquiries as residents of this city-state seek to take advantage of relaxed international travel measures.

According to data from Expedia Group, searches for cities within the so-called VTL in Singapore have doubled-in some cases almost tripled. Earlier, government officials announced the opening of new quarantine-free travel routes to European, North American and Asian countries.

Simplify international travel

Last week, Singapore announced that it would travel with Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, and South Korea from November 15 to travel without isolation from October 19. They are vaccinated and must be tested for Covid-19 to ensure that they are not infected before entering the country.

The announcement marks a significant expansion of the island nation’s VTL program, which currently includes Germany and Brunei.

After the news, the search interest of Singapore residents increased to:

  • Seoul, South Korea-180%
  • Vancouver, Canada-160%
  • Frankfurt, Germany — 130%
  • London, United Kingdom-120%
  • Los Angeles, USA-80%

The managing director of Expedia Asia said that these 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.

On December 7, 2020, tourists walk through the terminal of Singapore Changi Airport.

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Choo Pin Ang said on CNBC’s “Capital Connection” program on Tuesday: “VTL definitely has an impact on how people think about travel, where they want to travel and how they plan to travel.”

However, he added that as further easing policies are announced, he expects more traditional tourist destinations to become more and more popular. From June to October, year-end travel searches for VTL and non-VTL destinations in Singapore have tripled.

I don’t think we’re going to return to a state of retrograde blockade and people’s inability to travel

Amit Sabwar

Founder and CEO of Reddoorz

This is good news for the hard-hit tourism industry. As of Wednesday, Singapore Airlines’ stock price has risen by more than 9% in a week, while the stock price of SATS, which provides ground and inflight catering services at Singapore Changi Airport, has risen about 5%.

“Happy days are here again,” Amit Saberwal, founder and CEO of RedDoorz, a Southeast Asian budget hotel chain, told CNBC on Wednesday. “Even if they are in the early stages, I don’t think we will return to a retrograde blockade and people unable to travel… I think now is the time when we shine again.”

Headwind still exists

Singapore officials said that it is expected that there will be more travel routes without isolation in the coming months, including some travel routes in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ang said Australia, New Zealand and Japan, as well as some countries “closer to home” in Southeast Asia, may be included.

Thailand announced on Monday that it plans to lift quarantine restrictions on vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries including Singapore from November.

“What really determines whether the VTL will work is the strong economic ties between Singapore and these countries, the vaccination rate, and the progress these countries have made in mitigating Covid,” he said.

Nevertheless, headwinds still exist. Ang said that with the continuous development of travel restrictions and the current maximum number of VTLs arriving in Singapore at 3,000 per day, travelers should be “flexible” to make flexible bookings and purchase travel insurance that includes Covid before departure.

-Shuban Jigor Contributed to this report.

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