The Impact of Travel Bubbles on Tourism

International travel is difficult right now thanks to the pandemic.


That said, there are avenues opening up for international tourists again - travel bubbles being some of them.


The travel bubble is one of the tools governments around the world are using to revive tourism. Some experts even believe that travel bubbles may be the integral to keeping the hospitality and tourism industries alive in various states.


If you’re not quite sure what these bubbles are, don’t worry. We’ll talk about them today and how they affect tourism as well as your options when travelling post-Covid-19.



What Is a Travel Bubble?


Let’s start with what it is.


A travel bubble is an agreement between two countries that permits travellers to move from one to the other without having to quarantine themselves on arrival.


This is why they also call them “corona corridors”.


The assumption behind the travel bubble is that the risk of coronavirus transmission is fairly low or manageable between the countries involved. This is often because both countries have a similarly low number of cases or comparable pandemic management strategies.


A travel bubble is therefore a zone where two countries enjoy fewer travel barriers than others.


This makes either country a more attractive tourist destination for each other’s residents compared to countries outside of the travel bubble.



Singapore and Travel Bubbles


Now you’re probably wondering if Singapore has any travel bubbles.


Most of what we have right now are green lanes and Air Travel Pass or ATP agreements, actually.


These are mostly used for business or essential travel, though, and have different requirements - like a 48-hour isolation period upon arrival.


Examples include agreements with New Zealand, Australia, and Taiwan.


We also had arrangements with Germany and Malaysia, among others, but these were suspended not too long ago.


However, we recently had at least one travel bubble originally scheduled.


This was the long-delayed travel bubble it had planned with Hong Kong - which, unfortunately, has been delayed again.


The travel bubble was originally set to start in November of 2020, but was postponed after Hong Kong’s Covid-19 cases spiked.


Under the scheme, one flight would have been allowed from each city into the other per day. Up to 200 passengers would have been allowed per flight.


Travellers also needed to test negative for Covid-19 before departure and after arrival. Moreover, if they were travelling from Hong Kong, they needed to meet these additional requirements:


  • They should have had 2 shots of the vaccine.

  • They should have completed a 14-day quarantine before leaving.


The scheme was also set to monitor the seven-day moving average of daily Covid-19 cases. If it went over 5, the travel bubble would be suspended.


This travel bubble was postponed again due to a rising number of community transmissions in Singapore. Whether or when it shall be scheduled again is up in the air.



Are Travel Bubbles the Future?


You can probably already see why some believe travel bubbles are the future of tourism… at least when it comes to travelling post-Covid-19.


They’re still incredibly fragile, which makes the word “bubble” appropriate. The again-delayed bubble with Hong Kong shows that.


That said, these bubbles still represent a way forward, at least until we know more about the virus and how to control it. Better options will likely present themselves in the future for travellers.


For example, many states - including ours - have talked about the possibility of vaccine passports.


Once we know more about the vaccines and their efficacy, it’s not inconceivable for governments to start issuing such passports to facilitate cross-border movement again.


But until then, travel bubbles are just one of the ways we can try to regain mobility in an increasingly locked-down world.


If the HK-SG bubble eventually works out in the future, we may well find more bubbles opening, perhaps to places like Australia, New Zealand, or even the Maldives.


Eventually, we may even end up in a large bubble involving more than one country in our region, with more options for travel again.


At least, that’s what I think! What about you? What’s your opinion about the future of travel and travel bubbles in our area?