TravelManagers’ John Lengacher and Brett Ray, who are both long-established personal travel managers (PTMs) in Windsor, Melbourne, recently took advantage of newly-opened international borders for a five-day visit to Singapore. Their stay allowed them to better understand the current situation with COVID regulations and restrictions, see for themselves the latest developments in the destination and reconnect with the city they know so well.
It seems reasonable to assert that there are few in Australia more delighted with the resumption of international travel than its travel agent community. Lengacher and Ray, who between them have more than 50 years’ experience in the travel industry, describe Singapore as an easy destination for that first post-COVID trip.
“There is so much to do in Singapore, plus it’s safe, clean and affordable,” Ray explains. “Masks are mandatory, except outdoors from 1 April, and they take social distancing very seriously. At the Sofitel City Centre where we stayed, they had strategically placed giant teddy bears on couches in the lobby and lounge areas to encourage social distancing.”
“In the MRT [Mass Rapid Transit], there were signs reminding people not to talk (so as to not spread germs),” Lengacher adds. “Visitors must download the Trace Together app, and QR code check-in is required everywhere. Group sizes are limited, and you wouldn’t share a gondola on the cable car with a stranger for example.”
Yet despite the restrictions, the pair report that Singapore is 100 percent open for visitors, and despite being surprised at how quiet the city felt at times, they say it felt like an ideal time to visit.
“The airport seemed deserted. There were few tourists around in the city, although with many locals still working from home it did get a little busier in the evenings. There are some great deals around on hotels and attractions, and we felt as though we had the place to ourselves,” Lengacher reports.
For Ray, the biggest challenge was in keeping up with the requirements regarding permits and COVID testing. However, he notes that from 1 April the Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) and arrival testing will no longer be required, so the process should be more straightforward for visitors in the future.
“That being said, the rules for visitors to Singapore have changed twice since we travelled less than a fortnight ago,” he adds. “It really highlights the importance of working with a personal travel manager who can advise on the latest requirements and guide you through these uncertain times.”
Lengacher says his time in Singapore reminded him of just how much he has missed travelling abroad. He has since shared his experiences with his TravelManagers colleagues in a well-received post via a closed user group on Facebook and says his fellow PTMs have been grateful for the insights which they have been able to pass on to their customers.
Lengacher’s own customers will also take reassurance from his learnings, given many of them are still understandably hesitant about overseas travel in the current environment.
“A lot of clients remain quite nervous about international travel, so it’s very helpful to be able to provide a first-hand account about travelling in COVID times. Given that from 17 April passengers returning to Australia will no longer require a COVID test prior to their return, I’m hopeful that we can look forward to a steady increase in bookings from here on.”
For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Graciela Craig on 1800 019 599.
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