Australia to allow quarantine-free travel to Singaporeans this month

Australia to allow quarantine-free travel to Singaporeans this month

Singaporeans have traditionally been one of the Top 10 sources of international tourists in Australia. As of 21 November vaccinated travellers from the country will be able to visit jurisdictions participating in a new travel bubble, currently limited to just NSW and Victoria. Photo: Great Ocean Road, courtesy of Daniel Sessler (Unsplash)

In three weeks' time Singapore will join New Zealand as part of an exclusive club of countries whose citizens are allowed to travel to Australia without spending two weeks in quarantine on arrival.

However, where exactly they can do so will depend on the decisions of states and territories, with New South Wales and Victoria announced as the first jurisdictions to participate in the new travel bubble.

New quarantine-free arrangements will commence on November 21 for fully vaccinated Singaporeans travelling from the city state who present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, and they need not have spent the fortnight prior in Singapore itself to be eligible

The news follows Singapore's decision to allow Australia into its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme from 8 November, and was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome after a meeting with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong.

"Australia is slinging its doors open to fully vaccinated Singaporean travellers in November,” the Prime Minister said.

“This is another significant milestone in our step by step approach to safely reopening to the world that we outlined in the National Plan.

"It follows the announcement this week that fully vaccinated travellers from New Zealand will be welcomed back in October."

The PM emphasised this meant within weeks Australia would be welcoming tourists from two of our top 10 travel destinations.

"This is the billion dollar boost that Australia’s tourism industry has been waiting for," he said.

"Step by step, everything that we know and love about Australia is inching back to normal."

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator Marise Payne, highlighted many Australians live and work in Singapore, and vice versa.

"The strong exchanges over many decades have been to the benefit of both our nations,” Minister Payne said.

"It attests to the strength of our friendship and the effective management of COVID in each of our countries that we have been able to agree this early step in the reopening of normal travel.

"As we continue with our shared regional recovery from the pandemic, the resumption of travel between Singapore and Australia will provide great opportunities to move forward.”

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said this was the next logical step in reopening to the world.

“Australia remains a popular, world-leading destination and this is just the start of our international tourism comeback,” Minister Tehan said.

“Australia’s tourism operators and the sector’s 660,000 workers will welcome back with open arms visitors from Singapore.

“Quarantine-free arrivals demonstrate the success of our National Plan and the strength of our recovery.”

The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has welcomed the news Singaporean tourists will be able to visit quarantine-free, as well as the fact the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has recognised more vaccines - Covaxin (India) and Sinopharm (China).

"Our industry has been waiting for this announcement for 20 long months and there will be a great deal of relief felt today as export tourism businesses start to see the signs of returning international visitors,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.  

"Thousands of Australian tourism businesses have been waiting patiently for our borders to open to welcome back international guests and this announcement will provide some energy for those businesses.  

"Despite much talk of ‘pivoting to domestic travel’ the reality is both our domestic and internationally focused tourism businesses have suffered heavily with both state and international border closures."

Shelley noted Singaporeans spent more than $1 billion in Australia in 2019.

"And we remain a strongly desirable destination and with proximity and motivation on our side, we hope this market will offer strong opportunities," he said.

"Along with thousands of tourism operators and all the hundreds of thousands of businesses who rely on the international tourism revenue they generate, we welcome this announcement and look forward to the expansion of this travel list in the near future."

According to World Atlas, Singapore was the sixth largest source of international tourists in Australia in 2019 with 407,000 visitors.

Australia's combined trade in goods with Singapore in 2020 was worth more than US$10.6 billion (AUD$14.1 billion), according to data from Trade Map based on ABS and UN Comtrade statistics.

Updated at 5:10pm AEDT on 1 November 2021.

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