Australia and Singapore to set up bilateral travel bubble to relaunch tourism
Sunday, 14 March 2021
Australia is “working with Singapore” to set up a travel bubble between the two countries in July to relaunch bilateral tourism, wiped out by the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, an Australian minister said on Sunday.
“We’re working with Singapore at the moment, potentially for a bubble in July,” Tourism Minister Michael McCormack said on Australian public television channel ABC, adding that “as the vaccine rolls out, not only in Australia but in other countries (…), we will reopen more bubbles.”
Australia closed its borders from the start of the pandemic last year to prevent any spikes in Covid-19 infections on its territory, meaning non-citizens have not been allowed to enter the country since, except on an exceptional basis.
The agreement now under preparation should enable Australians and Singaporeans who have been vaccinated against the virus to travel between the two countries without having to be quarantined, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Canberra is also hoping that third-country visitors travelling for study or business as well as Australian citizens returning home will be able to spend their required two-week quarantine in Singapore before flying on to Australia, the newspaper added.
The 14-day quarantine required for people arriving in Australia has left tens of thousands of Australians stranded abroad since the country has been unable to manage such as influx while following its strict protocol.
Singapore has already opened its borders to a few countries that have been able to manage the virus, including Australia, and officials say it is looking to open up reciprocal travel corridors.
International tourism usually provides Australia with annual earnings of about 45 billion Australian dollars (around €29 billion), but since the pandemic, this has decreased to almost zero.
Canberra has already established a one-way travel bubble with New Zealand that allows nationals of that country to enter Australia without quarantine, although the programme has been suspended on various occasions following spikes in infections.