The Hong Kong air travel bubble with Singapore was the only thing you heard about the past week.
But after all the excitement dies down, the next question people in Singapore might be interested in knowing is this: What’s next?
Well, if you’ve been wondering (or anticipating) the answer to this question, you’re not the only one.
Here are the few places that several travel experts predict could be next to set up such partnerships with Singapore.
Experts Said These Are The Next Few Countries for Air Travel Bubble After HK
What’s the number one country Singaporeans hope to have a travel bubble arrangement with?
According to a poll, it’s South Korea, the land of Oppas and Running Man.
Well, according to Michael Chiam, senior lecturer in tourism at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, that might just come true.
He pointed out that the countries likely to set up an air travel bubble with Singapore are the ones which already has fast lane or Green Lane travel arrangements with Singapore.
According to the Safe Travel website by ICA, this includes Malaysia, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.
After all, by receiving travellers from these countries, it allows Singapore to better gauge their degree of infection and whether they can control it or not.
So, good news, right?
But like everything else in life, there’s a catch.
It Depends On Their Covid-19 Situation
According to Kevin Wee, a senior lecture at Nanyang Polytechnic School of Business Management, it’s difficult to predict the “next” country that’ll have a travel bubble in Singapore.
He is of the opinion that the reason why the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble (ATB) could work is because of two main factors:
- Both countries were able to effectively control Covid-19 infections
- Both countries are able to negotiate effectively and successfully
If you’ve read up on the HK-SG ATB, you’ll know that should the Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong worsen, the ATB would be suspended for a while.
Nonetheless, Mr Wee agrees that if there is any country likely to form an ATB with Singapore, it’ll likely be one of the countries that already have a sort of travel arrangement with us.
“It’s All About Trust”
Christopher Khoo, the managing director for international tourism consultancy Masterconsult Services, says that Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all “deserve” to be considered for partnership.
At the end of the day, he pointed out, “it’s all about trust”.
When Singapore and Hong Kong entered into the ATB partnership, what they’re essentially saying is that both countries trust each other’s public health systems to control Covid-19 and stomp out any “flare-ups”.
“The choice of partner country would really be – do I trust their system? Is there enough business, or is there enough interaction already in place, previously generated, that will justify MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) or whoever opening up a dialogue and talking.”
He also pointed out Vietnam as a likely candidate for the position, given how the country with a population of 97 million only had 35 reported Covid-19 deaths.
It was recently reported by Taiwanese media that Singapore officials are trying to reach out to Taiwan for a discussion of a possible travel bubble arrangement.
Other Possible Destinations
New Zealand and Brunei are possible destinations, experts opined, but in this case, it might still be the story of one-sided love.
Singapore has already opened up its borders to them but it seems like they’re not keen on opening up to anyone at the current moment.
Dr Wong King Yin, an NTU lecturer in digital and tourism marketing, pointed to China and Thailand as possible candidates.
China, however, is unlikelier, Dr Wong said, since they have enough people spending within the country that they don’t need tourists going in.
Thailand, on the other hand, desperately needs tourists and is said to be negotiating a travel bubble with China.
Safety Is The Name Of The Game
One thing that several of the experts agree on, is that the name of the game has changed.
It’s no longer about which country’s tourists can bring in the most money; it’s about how safe it is to let their people onto Singapore.
After all, just as Singapore assess whether the prospective partner is able to keep Covid-19 infections down (and out of Singapore), other countries are going to assess whether Singapore has the ability to keep their people safe when in their country.
Now that you know all this, isn’t it great that South Korea is now rolling out a new slew of measures to try and curb the Covid-19 infection?
By the way, Malaysia’s also one of the countries that have green lane arrangements with Singapore.
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