The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) launched a Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble (ATB), ahead of the departure of the first flights on 22 November 2020. Paving the way for the safe resumption of air travel, the Hong Kong-Singapore bilateral, all-purpose, and quarantine-free ATB is a milestone for the global tourism industry.
STB Chief Executive Officer Mr Keith Tan added: “The ATB is a significant milestone that demonstrates the deep connections and close friendship between Singapore and Hong Kong. Singapore is well-equipped to handle the Covid-19 crisis, and with our strong track record, we are confident that Hong Kong travellers can explore Singapore with a peace of mind.”
City-wide programmes for hygiene and safety in place
To provide visitors with peace of mind, both destinations have already put in place city-wide certification programmes for hygiene and safety. The HKTB has rolled out the Anti-Epidemic Hygiene Measures Certification Scheme to ensure that every touch point of visitors’ journey is covered with anti-epidemic measures. Meanwhile, Singapore’s SG Clean is a national mark of excellence awarded to businesses across Singapore - including tourism establishments - that meet its high standards of hygiene and sanitisation.
Designated airlines offer travel insurance add-ons
The two designated air carriers facilitating travel between the two island destinations are Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. And, as travellers are required to cover their own medical expenses should they test positive for Covid-19, those departing on Singapore Airlines flights can add travel insurance to their trip.
The coverage, underwritten by AIG, includes:
- Up to S$350,000 for medical costs, and emergency medical evacuation and repatriation expenses incurred during the trip if the insured is diagnosed overseas.
- Travel cancellation up to 60 days before departure for non-refundable travel and accommodation expenses if the insured or relative contracts the coronavirus before the departure date; and
- Travel curtailment for non-refundable trip costs and additional travel expenses to return to the insured's country of residence if the insured or relative gets infected.
However, it does not include trip cancellation cover resulting from border closures, quarantine, or other government orders, which Squaremouth recently noted is now one of the most highly-demanded aspects of cover for prospective travellers.
Cathay Pacific’s add-on travel insurance cover, which is underwritten by Chubb, reportedly does not include cover for claims directly or indirectly arising from Covid-19, as reported by the Asia Insurance Review.
Still, the partnership between the HKTB and the STB is also the first between the two tourism boards. It demonstrates the close ties between the two destinations, as well as a mutual commitment to provide visitors with a safe travel experience. As HKTB Executive Director Mr Dane Cheng said: “It is a hugely important moment that shows the world that safe international travel is possible and paves the way for us to bring tourist flights to and from other markets.”
Cathay Pacific Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam also commented: “We believe that this will be a milestone showcase for the opening of more, similar ATB’s with other popular destinations in the region and beyond.”