A favourite among European destinations pre-pandemic, Germany's diversity of offerings, from castles to forests to Oktoberfest, is once again beckoning travel-starved Singaporeans.
The past week has brought a palpable sense of excitement for the travel agent community in Singapore, in anticipation of the quarantine-free vaccinated travel lanes set to be launched with Germany from 8 September.
From the recent surge in enquiries received, Quotient Travel Founder Lim Hui-Juan has observed a mixture of interests from clients, from exploring nature and the outdoors on a luxury SUV to the evergreen favourites of gourmet, culture and shopping.
"Our clients have no preference on which region to visit, and have left us to make recommendations based on their preferences," she shared.
As opposed to multi-country Europe packages that were popular pre-pandemic, the focus on Germany as a travel destination now offers travellers "key opportunities for in-depth exploration" of the country, according to Steven Ler, executive director, head of travel at UOB Travel Planners.
In particular, Singapore travel agents foresee demand for river cruising to heat up.
"Germany is one of the largest travel destinations for river cruisers in Europe, and it’s also the main river cruising hubs intersecting many rivers such as the River Rhine, River Main and River Danube," said Nick Lim, Asia CEO, The Travel Corporation (TTC).
River cruises offer access to Germany's renowned Christmas markets and quaint towns. Photo Credit: Uniworld
River cruises' combination of comfort, safety, and ease of access to iconic attractions such as Germany's quaint towns and renowned Christmas markets, is proving a strong pull for savvy travellers eager to travel overseas again, noted Lim.
Echoing Lim, Ler also noted that the intimate size of river ships align with the customer profiles that will likely lead the first wave of leisure travel from Singapore — i.e. savvy, high end and small group travellers.
The low passenger capacity and safety protocols rolled out by river cruises is also a drawcard for this discerning segment. "River cruise ships are essentially moving hotels. Ler added, "With the smaller group sizes, movement will be manageable and they provide a much safer travel option."
The touring opportunities that Singapore's vaccinated travel lane with Germany brings for the travel sector is "just the tip of the iceberg", said TTC's Lim.
"Not only would this be beneficial for the river cruising product, there will also be a positive rub-on effect for guided vacations and also other sectors of the industry as well," he added.