Singapore is expanding the list of places able to participate in its vaccinated travel lane (VTL) scheme, with officials saying it is part of its strategy for living with Covid-19, and the Omicron variant of the disease. The scheme nonetheless has a quota system in operation, limiting the number of travellers that can use it at any one time.
From March 4, the city-state will start vaccinated travel lanes with, respectively, Israel and the Philippines, according to Wednesday announcements by Singapore’s Ministry of Transport and the country’s Civil Aviation Authority. The initiatives will enable two-way, quarantine-free, journeys for travellers fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Singapore is host to the casino duopoly of Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, run respectively by a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands Corp, and by Genting Singapore Ltd. Investment analysts have said that Singapore’s casino resorts had in pre-crisis times, depended on foreign tourists for much of their earnings.
The city-state is expanding its vaccinated travel lane protocol to include all cities in Thailand beyond the latter’s capital, Bangkok. The step will permit two-way quarantine-free flight journeys for fully-jabbed travellers. Such travel via Bangkok had been initiated on December 14.
Singapore was in “advanced discussions” to expand the vaccinated travel lane scheme to cover the Malaysian state of Penang, and Kota Kinabalu, capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state, said Singapore’s Minister for Transport, S Iswaran, in a Wednesday press conference. Singapore initiated an air travel scheme with Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, on November 29.
Indonesia is also slated to join the system, said the minister. Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, had been included from November 29.
“These planned moves with Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines will strengthen our air connectivity with our immediate neighbours, which is key to Changi’s position as an aviation hub,” said Mr Iswaran, referring to Singapore’s international airport.
The Civil Aviation Authority is also due to launch on February 25 – following an earlier deferral – vaccinated travel lane arrangements involving respectively, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
From the same date, Singapore is due to allow fully-jabbed travellers from Hong Kong into the country, without quarantine, said the aviation authority.
Singapore aims to up the daily quota of inbound air passengers allowed in aggregate, under vaccinated travel schemes, from 5,000 currently, to 15,000 daily by March 4.
As of Tuesday, Singapore had vaccinated travel scheme arrangements with 24 countries and places. As of that date, just over 389,000 travellers had entered the city-state under such arrangements. About 28 percent of them were short-term visitors, according to data from the Civil Aviation Authority.
“As we learn to live with Covid-19 and Omicron, it is essential that we progressively open our air and sea borders,” stated Mr Iswaran in his Wednesday comments.
“Our ultimate goal is quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated travellers,” he added.
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