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Travel companies see surge in Singapore enquiries, bookings

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Bookings for flights out of Singapore, as well as overseas accommodation, more than doubled as of Friday, just a day after the country announced that it would re-open its borders to all fully vaccinated travellers.

Among the slew of border measures announced – which will take effect from 11.59pm on March 31 – all fully vaccinated travellers, as well as children aged 12 and below, will be able to enter Singapore with just a pre-departure COVID-19 test.

In addition, fully vaccinated travellers from Malaysia entering Singapore via private vehicles through the land borders are not required to do pre-departure or on-arrival tests.

The new simplified framework will replace the existing vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) and unilateral opening arrangements and instead, classify countries and regions into either the general travel or the restricted category.

Data provided by regional online travel platform Traveloka showed a surge in demand for flights and hotels following the announcement, with a 152-per-cent increase in average search volume and a 227-per-cent in average booking volume.

A Singapore Airlines passenger jet taxis along the tarmac at Changi International Airport terminal. PHOTO: AFP

Similarly, online travel giant Expedia said it had also seen a doubling of flight searches when compared to a day before the announcement was made.

It added that New York, Tokyo, Bangkok and London, were among the top most-searched destinations on its website.

With the relaxation of Singapore’s border measures, travel agencies told CNA that they are expecting a further surge in bookings, particularly for outbound travel, due to pent-up demand.

Luxury travel specialist Intriq Journey, which focusses on exotic destinations, said it received two confirmed bookings immediately after the announcement on Thursday.

However, prior to this, it had already observed a high demand for bespoke vacations to countries under Singapore’s VTL scheme.

The company had started a recruitment drive for local talents earlier this year to cope with the increasing demand and volume of enquiries.

“We anticipate even greater demand and inquiries in the coming days,” said the company’s co-founder Jess Yap, adding that she expects that enquiries will “easily” double very soon.