The air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong will officially lift off on 22 November, with one flight a day into each city with 200 passengers each way.
The frequency will increase to two flights a day into each city from 7 December, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore announced on Wednesday.
Singapore Airlines also announced that it will begin operating the designated air travel bubble (ATB) flights with one flight a day from 22 November.
The inaugural ATB flight, SQ890, will depart from Singapore on 22 November, while the inaugural ATB flight from Hong Kong, SQ891, will depart on 23 November.
From 7 December 2020, Singapore Airlines will operate daily return ATB flights to Hong Kong.
Scoot, meanwhile, will be operating the non-air travel bubble flights.
Customers with existing bookings but do not meet the ATB requirements, or are travellers transiting through Singapore or Hong Kong and therefore not eligible for ATB flights, will have the option to be re-accommodated on Scoot instead.
Cathay Pacific will also be operating flights between Singapore and Hong Kong on alternate days until 7 December, thereafter increasing to one flight per day until 31 December.
STB, HKTB team up
The chief executives of Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Dane Cheng and Keith Tan, have lauded the ATB a significant milestone for the global travel industry.
Health and safety of locals and travellers remain a priority with the launch of the ATB, stressed both leaders, citing their respective certification programme -- Hong Kong's Anti-Epidemic Hygiene Measures Certification Scheme and Singapore's SG Clean -- in place for both cities.
As part of the partnership, the two tourism boards will undertake joint promotional activities such as coordinated social media content to promote both cities.
For Hong Kong, highlights on its events calendar this year end include the annual Christmas celebrations, Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival as well as art exhibitions such as Hong Kong Spotlight by Art Basel and Botticelli and His Times - Masterworks from the Uffizi in the Hong Kong Museum of Arts.
Singapore, meanwhile, has lined up the annual Christmas light-up along Orchard Road and the Christmas Wonderland at the Gardens by the Bay, while new attractions that have launched in the city include Aqua Gastronomy, the underwater dining pop-up at Resorts Worlds Sentosa's S.E.A. Aquarium, and the Changi Jurassic Mile, an outdoor display of dinosaur exhibits along a bike and walking path connecting Marina Bay and Changi Airport.
Hong Kong trade gears up for visitors
The Hong Kong travel trade, like its Singapore counterpart, has been working hard to welcome foreign visitors in anticipation of the travel bubble that will take effect from 22 November.
While the commencement date of the no-quarantine travel agreement remains unconfirmed earlier, travel-starved residents from both cities have already started booking flights and hotels in preparation for the border openings.
Lightfoot Travel is working with its partners to curate bespoke packages for clients in Singapore and Hong Kong, says Nico Heath, director and co-founder of the luxury travel agency. “We will ensure fully-flexible terms and conditions in case plans change due to Covid, meaning guests can postpone their trip or get a full refund if needed.”
Heath mentions that clients are currently waiting to book flights and accommodation, with Rosewood and Mandarin Oriental deeming most popular. “There’s been a mix of clientele showing interest for the Hong Kong-Singapore bubble, but the majority seem to be expats”, says Heath.
However, there appears to be more demand from Singaporeans wanting to visit Hong Kong, rather than the other way around. “I believe it’s because Hong Kong offers more outdoor experiences, plus the weather is cooler here, in comparison to Singapore”, notes Heath.
Four Seasons Hong Kong’s regional marketing director Irene Tan tells Travel Weekly Asia that the luxury hotel has already started receiving bookings for December and is further exploring opportunities with travel partners.
“So far, the bookings from Singapore are mostly families coming to Hong Kong for festive stays, and many of them have been booking packages directly through the hotel website”, she adds.
Since the travel bubble was announced, the luxury hotel has been working with partners to develop packages and hosted webinars to refresh its offers and unique destination highlights, says Tan. Packages are catered to families, shopping clients, spa and wellness, BFF getaways and culinary journeys within the hotel.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong attractions are gearing up for travel bubble to lift off. Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park Hong Kong reopened on 18 September after a temporary closure.
The Grounds at AIA Vitality Park, launched in early November, is Hong Kong’s first socially-distanced entertainment experience, which offers private pods, contactless food ordering, and regular screenings starting as low as HK$150 (US$19) per person.