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Singapore expands VTL to Australia and Switzerland, effective 26 Oct

Singapore expands VTL to Australia and Switzerland, effective 26 Oct

Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) applications for both the newly-launched VTLs will open on 1 November, and approved VTP holders can enter Singapore from 8 November.

Starting from 26 October 2021 (Tuesday), Singapore will expand its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) programme to Australia and Switzerland, according to Minister for Transport, S. Iswaran.

This takes the total of countries/regions involved in VTL to 13, with eight of them being in Europe; two in North America, and three as part of APAC.

For the newly-announced travel laves, Singapore's Minister for Transport, S. Iswaran said Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) applications for both the VTLs with Australia and Switzerland will open on 1 November, and approved VTP holders can enter Singapore from 8 November.

VTL with Australia

Touching on Singapore's VTL with Australia, the Minister called it a significant move, especially for visa class holders such as students and business travellers from Singapore.

This is against the backdrop that Australia has closed its international borders to all except its own citizens/residents since March 2020, and banned its citizens/residents from travelling overseas. As such, Singapore marks only the second country it is opening its borders to, with the first being New Zealand.

For another, pre-COVID, the nation was among Singapore's top 10 markets for annual passenger arrivals at Changi Airport, accounting for about 4% of Singapore's total arrivals in 2019. Back then, with those numbers, Australia represented one of the top five markets for international visitor arrivals.

Minister Iswaran said: "The VTL will allow the more than 50,000 Singaporeans living in Australia, and the Australian community in Singapore of more than 25,000, to reconnect with their loved ones after nearly two years of physical separation."

VTL with Switzerland

Touching on Switzerland, Minister Iswaran shared that the European country is already open to travellers from Singapore, the VTL, however, "restores two-way quarantine-free travel", widens Singapore's network of VTLs in Europe, and provides "greater flexibility for those travelling to the region".

From an economic standpoint, the Minister said that Switzerland is among Singapore's top 10 partners in trade in services, as well as foreign direct investment, while Singapore is Switzerland’s most important export destination in the ASEAN region.

"Our bilateral economic ties are broad and deep with over 1,000 Swiss companies in Singapore. This is the largest concentration of Swiss businesses in a single location in Asia, many serving as regional headquarters to reach Southeast Asian and North Asian markets. They provide good jobs for Singaporeans in a range of sectors, including financial services, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, engineering, consumer products and logistics," he added.

According to the Minister for Transport, with the two new VTLs in place, up to 4,000 travellers may enter Singapore daily through the various VTLs, a "1,000 more than what we have allowed up till now".

"It is important that we persevere with efforts to reopen our borders, with essential public health safeguards in place, to remain an international aviation and business hub with global connectivity. The VTLs are one means of doing so.

"Since the start of the VTL scheme on 8 September, more than 5,100 Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) holders have arrived, and there have been 5 confirmed imported cases," Minister Iswaran added.


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Image / Unsplash

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