Air travel in Singapore is recovering and has reached around 40% of pre-Covid levels despite China’s border restrictions, Transport Minister S. Iswaran said.
China’s passenger traffic is significant for Singapore, he said. Some 3.6 million Chinese residents traveled to Singapore in 2019, accounting for 13% of total visitors, according to data from the local tourism board.
China remained among the top sources of visitors to Singapore during the pandemic, but that may be changing as other countries relax border measures. In April, Singapore received just 5,000 visitors from China, less than 2% of total arrivals, data showed.
Travelers to China still need to take multiple Covid tests and quarantine upon arrival in the country.
Still, there are opportunities for growth in travel, Iswaran told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick and Geoff Cutmore on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum.
“We’ve seen a significant rebound in air travel coming through Singapore, in the space of less than two months from mid March to mid May,” said Iswaran.
“Our volumes have more than doubled to around 40 odd percent of pre-Covid, and we expect that momentum to continue,” he added.
Singapore started allowing quarantine-free entry for vaccinated travelers from selected countries starting in September 2021 with its so-called vaccinated travel lanes.
The scheme was expanded to more and more countries before Singapore switched to a vaccinated traveler framework, where inoculated people could enter the city-state from anywhere in the world without needing to serve quarantines.
Singapore has also dropped Covid testing requirements for vaccinated travelers and relaxed local virus control measures.
“Our focus has really been about how we can do this in a manner that is safe, so that we still are mindful of the potential risks from the pandemic, but at the same time, reconnecting to enable economic activity to take place,” Iswaran said.
Singapore has a vaccination rate of about 92%, and 76% of the population has received booster doses, according to the health ministry.
— CNBC’s Weizhen Tan contributed to this report.