Tech industry executives with operations in Singapore and Australia may be among the first wave of individuals with the right to fly between the two countries after lengthy pandemic-prompted restrictions, as the two nations work towards opening a new ‘travel bubble’.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that the Australian government is in the “final stages” of establishing an arrangement with the Singapore government.
It is understood the talks are currently focused on allowing business travellers and vaccinated students to be among the first people with the right to travel freely between the two countries.
“We are in the final stages of completing an arrangement with the Singapore government,” Morrison said during a press conference on 22 October. “I was in a position, as you know, some months ago, I met with...Prime Minister Lee [Hsien Loong] in Singapore, to set up a new arrangement which will see our borders open more quickly to Singapore.
“We anticipate that being able to be achieved within the next week or so as we would open up to more visa class holders coming out of Singapore,” he added.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took to social media to welcome the development.
“Delighted to hear that Australia will be allowing entry to visa holders from Singapore,” Loong said in a post on LinkedIn. “PM Scott Morrison announced at a press conference today that both sides are in the final stages of concluding the details of this pilot travel arrangement.
“I had encouraged him to do so when he visited Singapore in June. Singapore and Australia have robust economic and investment links, and warm people-to-people ties. Look forward to resuming close connectivity between our countries, as we move towards an endemic COVID future,” he added.
The prospect of a Singapore-Australia travel bubble was tabled months ago, with Loong and Morrison touching upon the possibility of opening up travel again between the two countries during Morrison's visit to Singapore in June.
“The Prime Ministers acknowledged the importance of open borders to the post-pandemic recovery and committed to resuming two-way cross-border travel when the public health situation in both countries permits,” said a joint statement from the two leaders at the time.
“They welcomed the ongoing discussions between border, health, transport and other officials to identify detailed operational requirements for COVID-19-safe travel, including discussions on health and vaccination certificates.
“They also discussed cooperating on welcoming the return of Singaporean students to Australia to continue with their studies,” it added.
It is thought the proposed Singapore-Australia travel bubble will be similar to the travel bubble recently opened up between Australia and the South Island of New Zealand, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.