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Asian Financial Hubs Hong Kong and Singapore Announce First ‘Travel Bubble’

Asian Financial Hubs Hong Kong and Singapore Announce First ‘Travel Bubble’

Singapore and Hong Kong have announced a two-way “air travel bubble” that will allow passengers to skip quarantine after arriving, boosting hopes for Asian countries eager to restart international tourism after months of crippling coronavirus restrictions.

Under the agreement, set to be launched as early as November, tourists from the two Asian financial hubs will have to test negative for the coronavirus. But two-week quarantine and stay-home restrictions will be eliminated, allowing travellers to wander around freely without controlled itineraries.

“Singapore and Hong Kong are regional aviation hubs and both governments have recognized that we successfully controlled [our] epidemics and incident rates remain low,” transport minister Ong Ye Kung, who has frequently stressed the importance of travel, told local reporters Thursday.

“Risks will be low as infection rates are low. It’s a small but significant step and hopefully one that sets a model for air travel.”

The experiment would be the first to involve a Southeast Asian country at a time when many of Singapore’s neighbors in the region are hurting from battered economies that lived on tourism.

Thailand, which went from an estimated 40 million tourists last year to empty beaches and hotels after the pandemic struck, is also mulling travel bubbles as it goes months with barely any reported cases of local transmission.

The bubbles or travel corridors are seen as the solution to reviving the badly hit global tourism and aviation industries but governments remain cautious in fully reopening their borders after seeing second and third waves of infection.

The first European travel bubble involving Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania ended after new quarantine rules were announced, though it is still possible to move between many European countries as long as rules are observed. In almost all of Asia, however, only domestic tourism and work travel has resumed.

Singapore appears to have brought its outbreak under control in recent weeks, with fewer than 10 new cases of infection being reported daily. Experts in Hong Kong however, say a fourth wave of infections is looming.


Source : Heather Chen Link

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