Connect@Changi to attract more visitors

It will benefit business travellers from countries with no existing travel arrangements with S'pore

The new Connect@Changi seeks to attract business travellers from countries that Singapore does not have existing travel arrangements with.

The travellers can make use of the facility to hold business negotiations, document signings and legal consultations, among other meetings, the Temasek-led consortium behind the facility said.

Mr Alan Thompson, Temasek International's joint head of stra-tegic development, said at a news conference yesterday: "There is a whole range of countries where those... (travel) arrangements don't exist yet.

"And we think that is where some of the big demand could be - certainly from the United States, Europe and Asia as well."

Reciprocal green lane (RGL) arrangements, which are currently in effect with Brunei and some places in China, let a traveller enter Singapore for business or official reasons. The traveller will not be quarantined but will have to test negative for Covid-19. He will be allowed to move around Singapore on a controlled itinerary.

But under the Connect@Singapore scheme, which Connect@Changi is part of, travellers cannot leave the designated facility.

RGLs had been the main avenue for facilitating business travel since the pandemic. But arrangements with five countries, including Germany and Malaysia, were suspended recently amid the worsening Covid-19 situation overseas.

On the risk of the scheme being similarly suspended, Mr Thompson said: "The travel arrangements that have been suspended were because they allowed certain types of movements with lesser or no quarantine requirements.

"Effectively, full quarantine requirements are in force when people make use of this facility, but the difference being that they are able to conduct business. They just don't engage the community."

He acknowledged that even though the Connect@Changi facility would let travellers avoid quarantine periods here, they could still be quarantined when they return to their home countries.

"Whether it is worthwhile, that is a choice they need to make, but they do have the option now that they didn't have before."

Mr Thompson said the primary objective was to resume business meetings again. "(Every)... business meeting is already something that wouldn't have happened if we didn't have this facility," he added.

He also said Connect@Changi could be one of the facilities that Singapore could offer to support the World Economic Forum meeting in August. But he noted that the decision on whether to use it will lie with the organisers and the Government.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2021, with the headline 'Connect@Changi to attract more visitors'. Subscribe