Singapore officially reopened for travellers today, lifting restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers and shifting from its Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VLTs) approach to a new Vaccinated Travel Framework.
TravelManagers’ John Lengacher and Brett Ray, who are both long-established personal travel managers (PTMs) in Windsor, Melbourne, recently took advantage of Singapore’s newly-opened international borders for a five-day visit.
Their stay gave them a better understanding of the current situation with COVID regulations and restrictions, see for themselves the latest developments in the destination and reconnect with the destination.
Lengacher and Ray, who between them have more than 50 years of experience in the travel industry, said Singapore was an easy destination for that first post-COVID trip.
“There is so much to do in Singapore, plus it’s safe, clean and affordable,” Ray explained.
“Masks are mandatory, except outdoors from 1 April, and they take social distancing very seriously. At the Sofitel City Centre where we stayed, they had strategically placed giant teddy bears on couches in the lobby and lounge areas to encourage social distancing.”
“In the MRT [Mass Rapid Transit], there were signs reminding people not to talk (so as to not spread germs),” Lengacher adds. “Visitors must download the Trace Together app, and QR code check-in is required everywhere. Group sizes are limited, and you wouldn’t share a gondola on the cable car with a stranger for example.”
Despite the restrictions, Lengacher said Singapore is 100 per cent open for visitors, and despite being surprised at how quiet the city felt, he said it felt like an ideal time to visit.
“The airport seemed deserted. There were few tourists around in the city, although with many locals still working from home it did get a little busier in the evenings. There are some great deals around on hotels and attractions, and we felt as though we had the place to ourselves,” Lengacher said.
For Ray, the biggest challenge was in keeping up with the requirements regarding permits and COVID testing.
However, as Singapore switches from its Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VLTs) approach to its new Vaccinated Travel Framework, the process should be more straightforward for visitors.
“That being said, the rules for visitors to Singapore have changed twice since we travelled less than a fortnight ago,” he added.
“It really highlights the importance of working with a personal travel manager who can advise on the latest requirements and guide you through these uncertain times.”
Lengacher said his customers have been reassured by his trip, given many of them are still hesitant about overseas travel in the current environment.
“A lot of clients remain quite nervous about international travel, so it’s very helpful to be able to provide a first-hand account about travelling in COVID times,” he said.
“Given that from 17 April passengers returning to Australia will no longer require a COVID test prior to their return, I’m hopeful that we can look forward to a steady increase in bookings from here on.”