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Travel searches for Singapore pick up as Covid curbs ease


SINGAPORE: Travel-related searches on Google for the island destination have jumped, particularly from neighbouring Malaysia, as well as Indonesia, India and Australia, according to data tracked by economists at Maybank Investment Bank Bhd.


Singapore has led other Southeast Asian nations in scrapping pandemic travel curbs after adopting a policy of living with the virus. Last week, it became one of the first major regional economies to announce it will end all testing for vaccinated travellers, starting April 26.


Similar moves by places like Thailand are also helping to spur a regional travel recovery, according to Catherine So, APAC managing director for Expedia Group. Bookings for travel from Singapore to Thailand nearly doubled after the latter said it will end mandatory on-arrival Covid tests from May 1.


“With the easing of measures by countries in the Asia-Pacific region, especially those in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, we’re beginning to see the return of demand for intra-Asia travel,” So said.


One major exception – China, which remains committed to a Covid-Zero policy. It was Singapore’s largest source of tourists before the pandemic, accounting for almost 20% of the island’s 19.1 million arrivals in 2019, Singapore Tourism Board data show.


Data from flight data provider Cirium show just nine passenger flights are planned for May to and from Shanghai and Singapore, versus 337 in May 2019. There are none scheduled between Beijing and Singapore next month.


Short-term visitor numbers “will likely accelerate in the second quarter driven by the reopening of borders in neighbouring Asean countries,” Maybank economist Lee Ju Ye said, referring to the grouping of Southeast Asian nations by its official name. Challenges include China’s Covid stance and a prolonged Russia-Ukraine war.


A Singapore Airlines Ltd. spokesperson said the carrier and its budget subsidiary Scoot have seen strong demand across all cabin classes for leisure and business flights.

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