The Pandemic and the global tourism industry:
The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the global tourism industry in the worst possible ways. From revenue loss to job cuts, the Pandemic has thrown some toughest challenges for survival. Several leading airlines have declared an unprecedented loss of revenues and are busy finding ways to recover from the pandemic damage. Countries worldwide are looking for safe ways to revitalize the pandemic-battered tourism industry. Creating travel bubbles by forming travel alliances is a cautious approach towards that goal. The southeast Asian countries are no exception. Both Hong Kong and Singapore rely heavily on the travel business. In a bid to revive the struggling tourism industry in Singapore and Hong Kong, the governments of Hong Kong and Singapore are in talks about the possibilities of commencing a quarantine-free Hong Kong Singapore Travel Bubble between the two countries.
Travel Bubble: What’s In It For you?
If you are not aware of the term, a travel bubble is an air travel arrangement between two or more neighboring countries. Countries with fewer positive coronavirus cases are considering creating safe travel bubbles or travel corridors to revive the participating countries’ tourism sector. Depending on Government policies, a travel bubble can be free or limited. Free travel bubbles permit unrestricted travel between the participating countries free from quarantine. Limited bubbles, as the name suggests, might impose certain restrictions and can include a quarantine procedure.
Air Travel Bubble – Tourism Industry’s Magic Wand?
An air travel bubble arrangement between Hong Kong and Singapore has created a lot of buzz in the travel sector. Both the countries have remarkably restrained the outbreak of Covid-19. The landmark deal, if successful, will work as a breather for both Cathay Pacific. The travel bubble will allow 200 passengers to fly in each direction daily. Both countries’ governments are hopeful that the travel bubble will be a positive nano-step in the restoration of cross-border travel. In the beginning, Cathay Pacific will operate on alternating days. Later, Cathay Pacific will operate daily with a more extensive arrangement in place. Ong Ye Kung, Transport Minister, Singapore, is hopeful that the travel bubble will work as a model for other countries if successful.
Sneak peek into The Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble:
The travel bubble eliminates quarantine. But for the passengers, it still has a long list of to-dos in place. A commuter needs to follow specific rules and regulations before boarding on Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble:
- A commuter from Hong Kong to Singapore must take a coronavirus test (PCR) within 72 hours before departure. There are 19 government-authorize laboratories and four community centers for tests. The test report needs to be negative.
- The commuter with a travel history to anywhere other than Hong Kong or Singapore in the last 14 days will not be eligible for flying on the travel bubble.
- The COVID-19 PCR test does not apply to children aged 12 years or younger.
- There will not be any arrival test for Hong Kong commuters at Singapore’s airport.
- Should carry an air travel pass.
- Passengers need to carry required visas and permits.
- Commuters to Singapore need to submit a health declaration using SG Arrival Card Service.
- Long-term pass holders need to obtain an SGA-approved entry letter.
- Be ready to cough up from a few hundred to 2,000 HKD.
Booking a bubble flight:
- Commuters flying from Hong Kong to Singapore need to book designated travel bubble flights – CX759 and CX734. Bubbles flights, marked as Travel Bubble, can be booked from the Cathay Pacific website.
The coronavirus spectre continues to haunt:
The first post-corona travel bubble flight could not take off on its scheduled date – 22 November 2020. Earlier, in an investor briefing, Ronald Lam Siu-por, Cathay Pacific executive director, expressed his satisfaction with the airline’s overwhelming response. But it seems Cathay Pacific has to wait indefinitely as the Hong Kong Government has decided to postpone the travel corridor following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong. As the global epidemic continues to haunt, the travel bubble can take-off in 2021. Singaporeans and Hongkongers can only cross their fingers and wait.