More than 2,000 travellers have been granted a pass to enter Singapore under a quarantine-free travel scheme, after the first day of applications opening for visitors from eight countries.
The 2,409 successful applicants under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme comprise 724 short-term visitors and 1,685 long-term pass holders.
The largest group of travellers hailed from Britain, with 976 successful applicants as at 11.59pm on Tuesday. There were 537 successful applicants from France and 440 successful applicants from the United States, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) in a statement yesterday.
Applications had opened at 10am on Tuesday for travellers from eight countries - Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Britain and the US - to enter Singapore on or after Oct 19.
Short-term visitors and long-term pass holders have to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass to enter Singapore under the VTL scheme. Fully vaccinated Singapore citizens, permanent residents and children aged 12 and below do not need to apply for a pass.
The extension of quarantine-free travel to the eight countries from Oct 19 is Singapore's biggest step towards reopening its borders to date after the pandemic shut down travel in March last year.
CAAS said the passes issued will let travellers enter Singapore between Oct 19 and Nov 17.
Under the VTL scheme, travellers have to take a pre-departure Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test, and another PCR test on arrival in Singapore.
Independent aviation analyst Brendan Sobie from Sobie Aviation said the larger number of long-term pass holders applying for the scheme compared with short-term visitors is expected, due to huge pent-up demand among expatriates in Singapore.
"In terms of tourists who stay at hotels and visit attractions, the numbers will be very small unless Singapore adjusts its reopening policies," he said. "Without other destinations in the region opening up, it's also hard to attract visitors here as the typical Singapore visitor - particularly visitors from North America and Europe - is on a multi-country itinerary."
Mr Sobie noted that it is not possible to accurately assess the demand for the VTL given that data on the number of Singapore citizens and permanent residents who will use the scheme is not currently available.
Singapore had last month started the VTL scheme for travellers arriving from Germany and Brunei. Between Sept 1 and Tuesday, CAAS issued a total of 5,228 vaccinated travel passes to travellers from Germany (5,018) and Brunei (210).
Applications for those looking to travel from South Korea under the VTL scheme will start at 10am on Nov 8 for entry into Singapore on or after Nov 15.
An average of 3,000 VTL travellers are allowed to enter Singapore a day under the scheme. This cap takes into account travellers who are Singaporean citizens and permanent residents, who do not need to apply for the vaccinated travel passes.
CAAS said it has invited both Singapore-based and foreign airlines to operate the designated VTL flights.
"The airlines are planning the flights they wish to operate based on their respective commercial considerations and will announce their plans when ready," it added. "We will monitor the demand and may adjust the quota of VTL travellers entering Singapore if needed."