Groups of up to 50 allowed for Singapore walking, cycling and kayaking tours

The larger group sizes are in line with the further easing of community measures. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Walking, cycling and kayaking tours will be able to accommodate up to 50 people from Wednesday (April 14), up from the previous limit of 20.

But tours will still be subject to existing social gathering sizes, which means that 50 people must be split into groups of no more than eight, with no intermingling allowed, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said in an update on Monday (April 12).

The larger group sizes are in line with the further easing of community measures announced by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 last month.

On Monday, STB also said that tour operators no longer need to seek approval for each tour itinerary but will be able to resume tour operations under a single application.

Tour operators and tourist guides who have previously received approval to resume tours from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) do not need to seek approval again.

As long as they have obtained permission to resume at least one tour itinerary, they do not need to do so for subsequent itineraries even if they are different from the one that has been approved.

To apply for approval from MTI to resume tours, tour operators and tourist guides should apply through STB. STB and MTI will take up to 14 days to assess each application.

Tour agencies welcomed the announcement, which will give them more flexibility to design itineraries and reduce operating costs.

Not having to submit every itinerary for approval will allow agencies such as Indie Singapore Tours to roll out personalised tours for their customers, said its co-founder, Mr Toh Thiam Wei.

"Thematic tours they can design, specialising in history, nature, or food, for instance, will give customers more choices and encourage them to explore Singapore," he said.

For director of A+B Edu Tours & Travel Angie Lau, having a larger group size allows travel agents to buy tickets in bulk and cut back on the number of guides needed for each tour.

Even as restrictions are eased for tours, safe management measures to reduce the risk of transmission risk, facilitate contact tracing and reduce the risk of surface transmission will remain in place.

For conveyance-assisted tours - for example, those that involve a coach bus - the capacity limit remains capped at 50 people, or the operating capacity the vehicle is allowed to maintain under Covid-19 restrictions, whichever is lower.

Participants must also maintain records of a detailed tour itinerary, use SafeEntry check-in where applicable and ensure the use of TraceTogether for contact tracing.

Tour agencies are also required to rigorously clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as tour equipment.

STB reminded tour operators to abide by the prevailing safe management measures.

Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, those found guilty of the offences for the first time can be jailed for up to six months, fined up to $10,000 or both.

If convicted, repeat offenders can be fined up to $20,000, jailed for up to 12 months or both.

Tour operators and tourist guides found not to be complying face having their premises closed and their licences suspended or revoked. They may also be ineligible for grants, loans, tax rebates and other forms of assistance.

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