A travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong is in the offing, prompting a lot of stir crazy people to book flights between the two Asian cities. The mutual bubble was announced October 15. Travel analytics company ForwardKeys reports that, in the week following the announcement, searches for flights from Singapore to Hong Kong increased by 50 percent from 2019, while bookings jumped 30 percent.
Searches and bookings for flights in the other direction—Hong Kong to Singapore—saw a more modest uptick.
Most searches are for the three weeks leading up to Christmas, suggesting that people are keen to get out and about for the holidays. Indeed, December 18-25 are the peak travel dates as far as bookings go. An overwhelming majority of these travelers—more than 80 percent—say they are going to visit friends and family.
I have never visited Singapore, though I did spend a lot of time in the airport once. I’ll never forget it. Nursing a head-crunching hangover, I sat there trying to get through to a 1300 number in Australia while my flight was delayed not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times. I was also constipated. But that’s neither here nor there.
Jameson Wong, director of ForwardKeys, characterized the travel bubble as a “milestone arrangement.”
“The immediate rush in flight searches and issued tickets,” he said, “is significant because it proves that people want to travel and they will travel, as soon as the right safety protocols are put in place and government-imposed travel restrictions are lifted.
“Our findings will provide a much-needed breath of fresh air and hope to the multitude of businesses and individuals that rely on travellers for income. … I am confident that other countries in the region will see this as a case study to guide their own travel facilitation initiatives in the near future.”
Optimism is also being expressed by travel companies eager to scramble out of the doldrums that the coronavirus pandemic threw them into.
The virus has been all but stamped out in Singapore and Hong Kong, where new infections are in the single digits (and all of them are imported). On the other hand, the United States reported more than 103,000 new cases just yesterday. Quite an impressive figure from the Leader of the Free World, which, come January 21, will be led by the fat orange monkey no more.