Korea-Singapore travel bubble, in-outbound bidirectional ‘startup’

Exemption from quarantine for individual travelers, no restrictions on subject and purpose
Inbound industry is also ‘expected’ by attracting commercial demand
Singapore Tourism Board is reviewing support measures such as vouchers

The ‘Korea-Singapore travel safety zone (travel bubble)’ begins on November 15. There are no restrictions on the target, such as groups and individuals, and the purpose of tourism or commercial use. The photo is Merlion Park / Travel News CB

The Singapore travel bubble starts on November 15th. Both individual and group travelers can travel to both countries without quarantine if they are vaccinated. Compared to Saipan, the first travel bubble, the country has had a lot of inbound demand, so expectations for ‘bidirectional exchange’ are also rising.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced on October 8 that it had reached an agreement on the ‘Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Korea and Singapore’. In particular, it is notable that there are no restrictions on the target, such as groups and individuals, and the purpose of tourism or business. Citizens traveling between the two countries can travel freely as long as they receive a negative COVID-19 test result after entering the other country. Mutual vaccination certificates were recognized, and cross-vaccinated persons were also included in the exemption. The Korea-Singapore visa waiver agreement, which was suspended since April last year, is also scheduled to resume.

With one month left before implementation, the travel industry is paying close attention to detailed guidelines. According to the government’s announcement on October 8, it is planning to separately designate travel bubble flights in the early stages of implementation. A Singapore Airlines official said, “We have inquired with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport about the number of travel bubble flights and whether transit is possible, and we will finalize the flight plan according to the implementation guidelines.” Currently, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, and Singapore Airlines operate the Incheon-Singapore route, and Jeju Air has also applied to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to operate the Singapore route.

Travel agency officials agreed that the Singapore product setting was already completed. Hana Tour introduced newly prepared Singapore products in preparation for with Corona, and plans to release customized products as soon as the travel bubble enforcement guidelines come out. Although there are no restrictions such as travel routes, there are also questions about whether free travel is actually possible. A Land company official expressed concern, saying, “As of the 14th, Singapore allows gatherings of up to two people. An official from travel agency B said, “It is a bit disappointing because we were expecting more relaxed measures such as reduction of PCR tests, but we expect that it will serve as a starting point for the resumption of travel to Southeast Asia.”

The inbound industry is also welcoming. This is because, unlike Saipan, there has been steady inbound demand in the past. In addition, as the target of free travel has expanded, procedures such as safe travel to Korea and designation of a quarantine manager have also disappeared. An official from Inbound Travel Agency C said, “In the implementation plan announced by the government in June, there were many parts that small travel agencies suffering from a manpower shortage felt burdensome, but they have been largely resolved. It seems,” he said. He added, “We expect that people-to-people exchanges between the two countries will begin with this opportunity and will be settled around March or April next year.”

The role of the Tourism Board is also important for the successful establishment of the travel bubble. In the case of the Saipan Travel Bubble, the Mariana Tourism Administration provided full support, including support for airlines and travel agencies, traveler vouchers, and treatment costs for COVID-19 patients. As a result, as of October 13, this year, the number of Saipan product reservations exceeded 8,000. An official from the Singapore Tourism Board said, “Currently, we are reviewing various travel support measures, including vouchers.”

Reporter Eunji Lee [email protected]

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