Singapore was the fifth most visited city in the world before the COVID-19 pandemic and in 2019 tourism contributed SGD27.1 billion (approx £15.3 billion, $19.7 billion) of revenue to the economy.
According to The Singapore Tourism Analytics Network (STAN) , Singapore had 76% less arrivals up to and including July 2020, than in the same period in 2019, overnight visitors were down by an incredible 99.6%.
For more information on how Singapore has dealt with COVID-19 see our post Singapore and the Battle Against COVID-19.
We have also looked at the options throughout South East Asia in our post South East Asia, Open for Travel?
Singapore and COVID-19
Although Singapore has recorded more than 57,000 cases of COVID-19 as well as 27 deaths, the number of cases in the community have been consistently low.
The major issue with COVID in Singapore has been within the crowded dormitories used for immigrant workers employed in industries such as construction and ship-building.
The Chief Executive of Singapore Tourism Board (STB) recently said that even if a COVID-19 vaccine is developed soon, tourism in the country could take three to five years to return to pre-pandemic levels.
For the latest COVID figures please see our post COVID-19 and South East Asia .
Opening the Borders
Singapore has already announced a number of “Green Lane” travel arrangements. These are designed to allow two-way traffic for essential and business travel only.
The Green Lanes are focused only on countries where the risk of COVID infection is deemed to be low. Currently only the following countries have Green Lane agreements in place:
- Brunei – essential business and official purposes travel is allowed between the two countries up to a maximum of 14 days stay. Travellers must have remained in their home country for 14 days prior to travel, undergo a pre-departure COVID test and abide by a pre-agreed itinerary for their stay.
- China – since 8th June arrangements are in place with six provinces of China, quarantine is not required but COVID swab tests must be taken
- Japan – from 18th September essential business and official travel has been allowed between the two countries as long as a number of safeguards are in place. These safeguards include pre-departure and post-arrival testing alongside a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days of travel.
- Malaysia – from 17th August there have been two arrangements in place. The Reciprocal Green Lane allows travel for essential business and official purpose. The Periodic Commuting Arrangement allows residents with long-term immigration passes for business or work to occasionally return home for short periods.
- South Korea – from 4th September a similar arrangement to that for Japan (above) has been in place
Singapore has also allowed visitors, including leisure travelers, from Brunei and New Zealand to enter the country from September. Visitors must have been in Brunei or New Zealand for the 14 days prior to entering Singapore, must complete a swab test on arrival and, if the test is negative, can travel freely without the need of a 14 day quarantine.
It is believed that Singapore is also having discussions regarding Green Lanes with Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand.
There have been some suggestions that Singapore could open to more widespread tourism as long as tourists could be isolated from the general Singapore community. This could involve specific attractions and hotels being used only for tourists who would not be able to visit non-authorised places.
Transit through Changi Airport
Many people only see Changi Airport in Singapore as they use the airport as a hub for onward travel especially through to other parts of South East Asia.
Currently travellers must be flying on Singapore Airlines, Scoot or SilkAir to be eligible to transit.
All travellers transiting through Changi must submit to a temperature check (if it is too high you will be referred for medical attention), wear face masks at all times and adhered to social distancing measures.
The following list includes all current and planned, some do not come into effect until later in October, transit arrangements in place:
- Australia (Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth & Sydney)
- Cambodia (Phnom Penh)
- China (Congqing, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai & Tianjin)
- Denmark (Copenhagen)
- France (Paris)
- Germany (Frankfort)
- Indonesia (Jakarta, Medan, Palembang, Pekanbaru, Semarang, Surabaya & Yogyakarta)
- Italy (Milan)
- Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
- Japan )Osaka & Tokyo)
- Malaysia (Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching & Penang)
- Netherlands (Amsterdam)
- New Zealand (Auckland & Christchurch)
- South Korea (Seoul)
- Spain (Barcelona)
- Switzerland (Zurich)
- Taiwan (Kaohsiung & Taipei)
- Thailand (Bangkok)
- Turkey (Istanbul)
- United Kingdom (London)
- Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City).
In August the Singapore government announced that it was issuing “SingapoRediscovers” vouchers to all citizens aged 18 and over worth SGD100 (approx £56, $73) which could be spent on hotel stays and visits to local attractions and tours. The vouchers will be valid from December 2020 to June 2021.
The hope is that Singaporeans will spend more of their time utilising local travel destinations to help the tourist economy which has been heavily affected by closing of the borders.
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