[Updated: 13 June 2021]
With Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) starting and authorities ramping up on Covid-19 vaccinations, Singaporeans may get to travel overseas again if 75% of the population has been vaccinated. If all goes well, that could be just after October 2021! In the past week, there's also been news of Singapore's travel bubble plans with countries like South Korea and Australia. While the plans aren't finalised yet, we can't help but dream about our big vacation when the borders open. Here are 8 destinations and countries that Singapore might have a travel bubble with in 2021!
1. South Korea
The possibility of a Singapore-Korea travel bubble has been ongoing since March 2021 and South Korea's Transport Ministry is looking to expedite travel bubble talks with Singapore to allow quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated people. If all goes well, Singaporeans might be able to visit South Korea from as early as July 2021!
The first phase of the travel bubble programme will include selected package tours and those who sign up must stick to the itinerary. Travellers will also have to test for Covid-19 and submit a negative test result three days before their departure, before testing again upon arrival at their destination.
Prime Ministers of both Singapore and Australia have agreed to arrange two-way travel between both countries in a safe manner. Singapore is also the first destination after New Zealand that Australia wants a travel bubble with. While a concrete timeline hasn't been established, the Singapore-Australia travel bubble may allow fully vaccinated people from both countries to travel freely to either destination without the need for quarantine. Both countries are also looking into mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates from both sides.
In March this year, Taiwan announced that it’s considering a travel bubble with Singapore. Then in April, Singapore authorities submitted a proposal to Taiwan for the establishment of an air travel bubble and recognition of vaccine certificates. Taiwan has recently recorded a surge in Covid-19 cases and Singapore has suspended its Air Travel Pass (ATP) for travellers from the destination. However, once the situation in Taiwan subsides, we foresee that talks of a possible Singapore-Taiwan travel bubble might happen. With Taiwan’s scenic nature, night markets, bubble tea and more, it sounds like just the perfect spot to visit to cure your travel blues!
Singapore has unilaterally opened its borders to Brunei since September 2020. Travellers from Brunei who are coming to Singapore only need to apply for an Air Travel Pass (ATP) 7-30 days prior to their trip. They also won't need to serve quarantine as long as they have negative Covid-19 test results. While there's been no news from Brunei yet, Singapore has mentioned that it wishes to have a travel bubble with Brunei. We predict that it's just a matter of time before a travel bubble agreement is reached between Singapore and Brunei as the number of community cases is low in both countries.
5. Hong Kong
Singapore and Hong Kong came the closest to establishing a travel bubble in November 2020 and May 2021 but the plan was stalled when Covid-19 cases spiked. Both Singapore and Hong Kong will review their air travel bubble agreement in early July before they decide on a launch date. Both destinations have also been ramping up their vaccination efforts. Although the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble has not been successful, a framework is already in place and when the time is right, the bubble will take off.
6. Bintan & Batam, Riau Islands
Credit: Banyan Tree Bintan on Facebook
Popular with travellers from Singapore, Bintan and Batam in the Riau Islands previously announced that they had planned to welcome tourists in April 2021. But due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in the province, the travel bubble has been pushed back and might only be possible in August 2021. If the plan is successful, travellers will only be able to stay in the area within Bintan Resorts and the Nongsa area of Batam. They will also need to test negative for a PCR test when they arrive. Indonesians who have been vaccinated will also be allowed to enter the same areas as travellers in Singapore.
When officials from Singapore and China met in March, both sides agreed that travel between both countries will only resume if they can work out a system to recognise each other's health certification and exchange personal information. While no timeline has been established, Singapore and China already have a fast lane in place for business and official travel. Since November 2020, Singapore has also allowed travellers from mainland China (excluding Guangdong) to enter Singapore with the ATP.
8. New Zealand
Singapore has said that it is open to a travel bubble with New Zealand. New Zealand has managed to keep its number of Covid-19 cases low and the country has launched a travel bubble with Australia since April 2021. Travellers from New Zealand have also been able to travel to Singapore with the ATP without quarantine as long as they take a PCR test at the airport and are negative. However, New Zealand currently hasn't announced any plans to open its borders to travellers from Singapore.
With travel bubbles and vaccinations, travelling in the new normal will definitely be a different experience. Vaccination certificates will be a requirement for air travel and some countries might require you to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival. Airlines would also most likely require you to use the Iata digital travel pass app that'll have access to your Covid-19 test results, health information, vaccination statuses and more.
Even with all these new implementations, we're pretty sure when the time comes, travellers will be on that first flight out to fuel their wanderlust!