Trailblazing German tourists are already there. Now Australians, if Tourism Minister Dan Tehan is to have his way, could be there by Christmas.
It’s no secret that Singapore is one of Australia’s most popular leisure destinations. And come year-end, it looks like travel to the vibrant city-state might be on the cards.
Once lauded for keeping COVID at bay, cases are rising. But the expectation is that it will be under control again in the next few weeks.
When travel was at its height, Australians flocked to the city state – over a million joined the 19 million others visiting this tiny, vibrant island. Now, with those numbers near zero, we can expect a welcome mat.
The opening of a travel bubble will mean all-important quarantine-free travel between the two countries. Qantas has already scheduled December 18 for the first regular Sydney-Singapore flight since March 2020.
Singapore Airlines has been flying throughout the pandemic.
“Singapore Airline’s commitment to Australia is unwavering, as we continue to operate double-daily services to Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, three-times weekly services to Adelaide and daily passenger services to Sydney,” said Karl Schubert, the airline’s spokesperson
So have the phones started ringing? The airline states: “The recent commentary from state and federal Governments… has certainly increased the level of interest from customers and travel agents.”
It’s not just the airlines that are eager to welcome Australians. The Singapore Tourism Board is ready for visitors from Down Under once both countries lift border restrictions.
“Australia has always been a long-standing tourism partner for Singapore, so we are expecting many will make plans to visit as soon as they can,” said STB’s Stephanie Yong, Area Director Oceania.
As Ms Yong told Explore: “Aussies love Singapore for many reasons; its diverse food scene encompassing hawker food to fine-dining, bar scene with rooftop bars, pubs and hidden speakeasies, cultural neighbourhoods and iconic attractions like Gardens by the Bay and the Night Safari.
As you would expect from the state renowned and admired for its efficiency, the rules will be strict to keep people safe. Keep your vaccine passport handy. You’ll need your TraceTogether app (you check in and out with it). And you’ll get your temperature checked often.
“Everyone is cautious about COVID-19, so we’ve worked hard to ensure we have measures in place to provide peace of mind for visitors,” added Ms Yong.
One such measure is SG Clean, a national certification program to identify businesses that meet high standards of cleanliness and hygiene, from retail to attractions, hotels and eating places.
Arriving in Singapore will be different. Changi is one of the world’s great airports, and it used to be a pleasure to land there. Today, strict protocols will mean flexibility and a sense of humour are the orders of the day.
You will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech , Moderna or other World Health Organisation emergency-use listing vaccines, with the final dose completed at least 14 days prior to arrival in Singapore.
No word on whether our Medicare vaccine certificate will work as an Australia-SG travel lane hasn’t opened yet. But the Germans need to present proof of vaccination (e.g. European Union Digital COVID Certificate in the form of an electronic/physical vaccination certificate from their country of origin.
Expect to take a pre-departure COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test within 48 hours before flight departure, and an on-arrival PCR test at Singapore Changi Airport, as well as up to two post-arrival PCR tests in Singapore.
Children under 12, who are currently not eligible for vaccination and people who are medically unfit to be vaccinated are not yet able to visit.
At present, restaurant diners have to be fully vaccinated and show their vaccine certificates. If unvaccinated, they need to take a pre-event Covid swab test to prove that they are negative for Covid.
And yes, the famous hawker stalls are open and don’t require vaccine certificates because they are mostly outside.
For attractions, currently no proof of vaccination is required, but do check the attraction itself for their entry rules.
So what can you look forward to?
One of Singapore’s oldest and most iconic places to stay − the Fullerton Hotel − is keen to entice Australians, having opened a sister hotel in Sydney in 2019.
“Guests who stay here can look forward to a unique, authentic and luxurious experience that brings them close to local history, heritage and culture,” said Giovanni Viterale, General Manager of The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts. “These include complimentary heritage tours around the precinct, enriching tours about sustainability at our Fullerton Farm where we grow an array of fresh ingredients, culinary and cocktail-making workshops, city exploration and many more.”
With cruises still suspended in Australia, a trip to Singapore could also be your chance to finally set sail on the open seas. Both Royal Caribbean and Dream Cruises have operated cruises-to-nowhere out of Marina Bay Cruise Terminal since end 2020.
Whilst these voyages are currently only available to Singapore residents, the lines are hoping to open up to fly-cruisers when travel and government guidelines allow.
“Pre-COVID, we had a steadily growing number of fly-cruisers from Australia, with many extending their stay with a cruise to visit neighbouring regions,” observed President of Dream Cruises Michael Goh. “We look forward to welcoming Australians back when safe and viable opportunities become available to grow the fly-cruise segment.”
Here’s what you’ll need on arrival:
• An approval letter for any of the Safe Travel Lanes.
• A mobile device with the TraceTogether app downloaded and profiles registered.
• Air Travel Pass, Reciprocal Green Lane and Vaccinated Travel Lane travellers are required to present an electronic or physical copy of a valid insurance policy.
• Connect@Singapore and Reciprocal Green Lane travellers are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result acquired within 72 hours before departure. Vaccinated Travel Lane travellers are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result acquired within 48 hours before departure.
• Reciprocal Green Lane travellers are also required to present a 14-day itinerary and proof of departure from Singapore.
A new attraction near Changi Airport, this features more than 20 different prehistoric creatures stretched over one kilometre of a cycling and jogging path. From a towering Tyrannosaurus Rex to gigantic dinosaur eggs, be wowed by the life-like dinosaur exhibits you’ll encounter.
Once Upon A Time on The Orient Express
This pop-up attraction at Gardens by the Bay West Lawn runs till January 2022, and features two original carriages of the Orient Express shipped from France. There’s also an exhibition detailing the history of the iconic locomotive, as well as brunch, lunch, high tea and dinner dining options in the replica restaurant car.
The Slingshot at Clarke Quay
This will be Asia’s tallest slingshot ride when it opens to adrenaline junkies at the end of 2021. It catapults riders almost 70 metres into the air, at a speed of up to 160 kilometres per hour. If you dare opening your eyes, you’ll be rewarded with scenic views of the Singapore river and skyline.
The SkyHelix at Sentosa
The tranquil offshore island will be expecting an exciting new attraction next year – the SkyHelix. The open-air rotating gondola ascends 35 metres above ground and offers panoramic views of Singapore’s southern coast. Sentosa is also home to favourites like Universal Studios Singapore, the S.E.A. Aquarium, a Sky Park bungee jump by AJ Hackett, beach bars and plenty of hotel and dining options.
Museum of Ice Cream Singapore
Not your average museum, this newly-opened attraction was created specially for frozen treat lovers. It features guided tours that take visitors through 14 multi-sensory installations, including a pool filled with sprinkles and a banana split room.