Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble sparks more plans for Asia

Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble sparks more plans for Asia

  • The tourism industry will be watching closely to see if the Newport tourism bubble will succeed as countries in the region hope to strike similar arrangements.
  • Eric Gnock Fah, co-founder of travel booking platform Klook, said tourism boards in the region had already started making plans.

SINGAPORE – The world will be watching closely to see if the quarantine-free travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong will succeed, according to Klook, one of the region’s leading tour operators.

Eric Gnock Fah, co-founder and chief operating officer of the booking platform, told CNBC ahead of this weekend’s highly anticipated launch that “all eyes are on this bubble, making sure it gets pulled off.”

If successful, he is optimistic that more such travel bubbles will emerge in the region.

Specially designated “air travel bubble” flights between Hong Kong and Singapore will begin on November 22, after more details were announced last week, at which point passengers will transition into quarantine.

As the bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore starts to stabilize more, we should expect more travel bubbles to open in this regard.

Eric Genok Fahey

Co-founder and COO of Klook

Following the announcement, Gnöckfach said tourism authorities in the region had been working hard to develop plans for additional travel agreements, should they come to fruition.

“As soon as the news came out, actually a lot of other tourism boards in Asia were very active in coming to us to discuss the plans they had in place,” Gnock Fah said.

“As the bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore starts to stabilize, we should expect more travel bubbles on this front. We are very optimistic on this front,” he added.

Klook, which manages destination bookings such as hotels and experiences, saw a more than 8-fold surge in searches for each destination on the day of the announcement.

Travelers from Singapore have proven particularly restless, with travel searches from the small city-state increasing 8-10 times and Hong Kong 3-5 times, he noted.

On October 24, 2020, Singapore Airlines cabin crew arrived at Singapore Changi International Airport, boarded a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 aircraft, and enjoyed an inaugural lunch at the A380@Changi restaurant.

Rosslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

Gnock Fah said travelers on both sides were equally keen to extend their stay to offset high airfares and testing costs, noting it marked a departure from the pre-Covid preference for long weekend stays. He added that destination operators such as hotels aim to capitalize on the trend with continued discounting.

The travel and tourism sector benefited further in the past week, as promising vaccine announcements from Pfizer and Moderna signaled optimism for a resumption of international travel in 2021.

“Tour companies, tourism boards are busy making sure we catch this pent-up demand when it comes,” Gnock Fah said.

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