The search for Singapore’s new “Vaccinated Travel Lane” flight has sparked excitement as city-state residents seek to take advantage of the ease of international travel.
According to the Expedia Group, searches for cities among Singapore’s so-called VTLs have doubled এবং and in some cases nearly tripled. This comes after government officials announced the opening of new quarantine-free travel lanes in Europe, North America and Asian countries.
Make international travel easier
Last week, Singapore 1 Canada announced separate trips from October to Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States-as well as South Korea from 15 November. Before entering the country, they need to be vaccinated and tested for Covid-1 tests to make sure they are not infected.
The announcement marks a significant expansion of the island nation’s VTL program, which currently includes Germany and Brunei.
Following the news, interest in the search among Singaporeans has increased, week by week:
- Seoul, South Korea – 180%
- Vancouver, Canada – 160%
- Frankfurt, Germany – 130%
- London, United Kingdom – 120%
- Los Angeles, USA – 80%
Expedia’s managing director for Asia said the searches marked 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.
Visitors walk through a terminal at Changi Airport in Singapore on December 7, 2020.
Facebook Facebook Logo Sign up for Facebook to connect with Rozlan Rahman AFP | Getty Images
“VTLs certainly have an impact on how people think about travel, where they want to travel and how they plan their travel,” Chu Pin Aung told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Tuesday.
However, he added that he hopes to increase the popularity of more traditional theatrical travel destinations since the announcement to make it easier. Already, searches for year-end travel to city-based VTL and non-VTL destinations have tripled from June to October.
Which is good news for the suffering travel industry. As of Wednesday, shares of Singapore Airlines were up more than 9% during the week and shares of SATS, which provides ground and in-flight catering services at Singapore Changi Airport, rose nearly 5%.
“Happy days have come again,” Amit Saberwal, founder and CEO of Southeast Asia’s budget hotel chain Reddorz, told CNBC on Wednesday. “Even though they started, I don’t think we’re going back to the regressive lockdown and people can’t travel … I think it’s time for us to shine again.”
More separate travel lanes, including the Asia-Pacific region, are expected in the coming months, according to Singapore officials.
Aung said Australia, New Zealand and Japan could be included, as well as some “close-knit” countries in Southeast Asia.
Thailand on Monday announced plans to lift quarantine restrictions on vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries, including Singapore.
“Whether VTLs can work or not will really determine the strong economic ties between Singapore and these countries, the vaccination rate and how far the countries have come in quid mitigation,” he said.
Still, the headwinds remain. Travel restrictions are growing and the number of daily VTL arrivals in Singapore is currently limited to 3,000, Aung said, adding that passengers should be “smart” by making flexible bookings and buying travel insurance, including Covid, before departure.
– Shubhangi Goel Contributed to this report.