Nov 25, 2021 Newsdesk Latest News, Singapore, Top of the deck
Singapore and Malaysia will reopen a ground-level border between the two countries from next Monday (November 29) on a limited basis, and in what the Singapore authorities described as a “safe and calibrated manner”.
According to local media reports, in pre-pandemic times the crossing – known as the Causeway (pictured in a file photo), which spans the waters between peninsular Malaysia and the island of Singapore – saw more than 300,000 travel movements per day.
But under the pilot scheme toward normalisation of cross-border travel in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic – known on the Singapore side as the Vaccinated Travel Lane programme – the Causeway crossing will initially run at limited capacity.
In the first phase, travellers will journey on designated Vaccinated Travel Lane buses.
As well as needing to be fully-vaccinated against Covid-19, travellers have to be citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders of whichever of the two countries they are entering.
“This is to give priority for those who have been working in either country, to visit their families,” said a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office Singapore.
“Singapore and Malaysia aim to progressively expand” the Vaccinated Travel Lane land link “to include more travellers, including general travellers, taking into account the public health situation,” added the statement from the Singapore side.
Gan Kim Yong, Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry, was cited as saying in the release: “We seek the understanding of workers who may not be able to purchase a bus ticket to travel home immediately due to limited capacity in the initial phase of the launch.”
The statement said that the two sides would eventually look to restore another ground-level crossing, known as the Tuas Second Link.
These moves, in tandem with the already-announced Vaccinated Travel Lane between Singapore Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport – which will also start on November 29 – would “enhance the close socio-economic ties” between Malaysia and Singapore, said the latter.
“The launch of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (Land) is a big step towards reconnecting our people and economies, and will further enhance our bilateral relationship,” said Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s Prime Minister, in the statement.
Investment analysts have said that in pre-pandemic times, Malaysian general tourists were an important consumer market for Singapore’s two casino resorts.
Fitch Ratings Inc said in a Tuesday report that Singapore casino revenue was likely to recover in 2022 to about 75 percent of 2019 levels, compared to the circa 50 percent recovery relative to pre-pandemic levels seen this year.
According to respective filings of the operators of the two Singapore resorts, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, their combined 2019 gaming revenue for that market was circa US$3.35 billion at current exchange rates.
Malaysia’s casino sector would rebound in 2022 to 65 percent of pre-crisis revenue levels, likely thanks to “resilient domestic demand”, said Fitch.
Genting Malaysia Bhd, operator of Malaysia’s monopoly casino complex Resorts World Genting, had reported “leisure and hospitality” revenue from the Genting Highlands resort – including from gaming – amounting to just under MYR7.07 billion (nearly US$1.68 billion) for full-year 2019.
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