In the course of about a month, since early October, Singapore has expanded its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) list to 16 countries, with Malaysia, Sweden and Finland among the latest additions.
Malaysia stands out among this list because, pre-pandemic, Singapore was the top generating market, with 10.1 million arrivals for 2019. Even in pandemic-riddled 2020, this was still true — with 1.5 million arrivals from Singapore, followed by 711,723 from Indonesia and 405,149 from China.
According to FCM Consulting Asia's Senior Director Joanne Taylor, the travel management platform has already observed "a 350% upward projection in seat capacity for the week of 29 November to 5 December, representing some 40,000 seats".
FCM Travel Asia's Managing Director Bertrand Saillet added the team is already receiving enquiries and that "the year-end holiday season will also be an opportunity for strong recovery as a significant number of business travellers will choose to extend their trips for that short year-end getaway, even if it’s a near destination like Malaysia. The desire to get out of Singapore for a break is very strong.
"We have seen from the VTL announcements over the last two months that business travel returns quickly where restrictions are lifted. Therefore, we are confident that business travel will pick up considerably when the Singapore-Malaysia VTL starts on 29 November."
While interstate travel in Malaysia resumed from 11 October, business events players have continued to rally for broader, international border openings, especially to Singapore.
The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) just wrapped its first exhibition for 2021 in end October, and next up is the MATTA Fair (Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents), slated for 20-21 November at the Putra World Centre.
At the start, six VTL flights will service the Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport route from 29 November. Applications begin on 22 November, with more details to come. However, the reopening only applies to air transfers, not land travel — although this could happen in the "near future" said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a 8 November Facebook post.
Travellers from Sweden and Finland will also be able to apply for VTL travel from 22 November, for travel starting 29 November. Both countries are currently already welcoming travellers from Singapore.
Fully-vaccinated travellers are able to travel between Singapore and these destinations without quarantine, but must show proof of negative PCR tests twice: two days before departure, and upon arrival.
The daily quota into Singapore has also increased from 4,000 to 6,000 travellers starting 29 November.