Initial flights under the Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble – due to start on May 26 – are “fully booked” due to strong demand from “business travellers” and those making trips to visit relatives, said Jason Wong Chun-tat, chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, on a commercial radio programme broadcast on Sunday.
“There are plenty of business travellers and people visiting their relatives,” he stated.
Singapore (pictured) is home to two casino resorts: Resorts World Sentosa, run by Genting Singapore Ltd; and Marina Bay Sands, run by a unit of United States-based Las Vegas Sands Corp; the latter also the parent of Macau operator Sands China Ltd. Investment analysts have said Singapore’s casinos need to see a return of inbound foreign tourism to the city-state in order to thrive.
For the “first two weeks” of the programme – assuming no interruptions due to fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 in the two places – flights between Hong Kong and Singapore “were fully booked,’ with seats having sold out “quickly,” said the travel trade’s Mr Wong.
He said a factor was that a limited number of seats was being sold per flight, relative to normal aircraft carrying capacity.
On April 26, Singapore’s Ministry of Transport announced that the city-state had agreed with Hong Kong to start an air travel bubble between the two places on May 26, with one flight per day in each direction, capped at 200 passengers per flight, for at least the first two weeks.
Speaking on the radio programme aired on Sunday, Mr Wong said Singapore-bound tour group business from Hong Kong might happen only in “summer” this year, depending on whether a greater number of flights could be arranged under the Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble.
Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, reiterated to local media on April 30, that in order for people to be able to enter Macau quarantine free, after travelling from Hong Kong, the latter city would need to have “zero” Covid-19 cases “for 14 days”.
The Hong Kong travel industry’s Mr Wong said on the radio broadcast he believed it was “most likely” that were mainland China and Macau to relax travel restrictions facing people travelling from Hong Kong, the mainland and Macau would act “in sync”.
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“We see that basically the ‘golden’ periods [for Macau's casino industry] are all concentrated in the second half of this year”
Lei Wai Nong
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance