Here’s a 60-second speed-read of Asia Travel Re:Set Issue #73 – Singapore, Super-Charging VTLs and the Road to a Full Reopening, published on 20 February 2022.
On The South East Asia Travel Show this week, we discussed these developments with Karen Yue, Group Editor of TTG Asia. We also assessed the impact of COVID-19 on Singapore’s travel industry, and the outlook for 2022 as Singapore transitions toward a normalisation of travel.
This week’s newsletter includes selected extracts from this insightful interview.
1) Singapore’s Key Travel Stats
In 2019, Singapore Changi was South East Asia’s busiest airport, handling 68.3 million passengers. In 2021, passenger volume slumped to 3.1 million. International arrivals have also cratered. In 2019, Singapore welcomed 19.1 million visitors. In 2020, that figure fell to 2.7 million, with just 330,00 arrivals in 2021. Outbound travel has been severely impacted. In 2019 Singaporean residents made 10.7 million outbound trips. In 2021, just 830,000.
2) Accelerating VTL Travel
In late 2021, Singapore’s VTLs were starting to scale up. Then Omicron interceded. After a two-month slow-down, Singapore is stepping up its VTL scheme. The existing 24 VTLs will be restored to the pre-Omicron daily visitor quota. Singapore will also launch the previously postponed VTLs with Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia and add Isreal, Hong Kong, the Philippines & more Thai cities to the list. Significantly, arrival testing regulations have been eased.
3) When Will Singapore’s VTLs be Replaced by a Full Reopening?
Karen Yue: Group Editor, TTG Asia: “This question is red-hot right now. Some governments in Asia Pacific, such as India, the Philippines and Australia, have started to reopen without cumbersome terms and conditions. Others should follow in March, so there’s greater pressure on Singapore to reopen to all vaccinated travellers. Singapore’s Health, Trade and Transport Ministers have all said that the country must move towards a full reopening soon.”
4) When Will Singaporeans Be Able to ‘Buy and Fly’ once more?
Karen Yue: “People’s ability to ‘book and fly’ needs the coordination of all governments. More countries need to open without restrictions to facilitate the ease of travel. If Singaporean residents still need to rely on the VTLs, we should still see demand spike during the June school holidays. Some of the current and new VTLs are with countries that Singaporeans favour for holidays, and the simplified testing regime on return will convince people to just pack and go.”
5) Where will Singaporeans be Heading on Vacation This Summer?
Karen Yue: “Most likely families will head to Europe, Hong Kong, the Philippines and South Korea. These are destinations that Singaporean’s loved before the pandemic, and the VTLs will make travel easier and more accessible.”
This is a 60-second speed-read of Asia Travel Re:Set Issue #73 – Singapore, Super-Charging VTLs and the Road to a Full Reopening, published on 13 February 2022.