Credits: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB) has been postponed for at least 2 weeks due to a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in HK. The announcement was made by Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung in a Facebook post on Saturday. ATB flights were scheduled to commence on Sunday, 22 November.
Hong Kong confirmed 26 new coronavirus infections on Friday, 21 of which are local cases. Hong Kong has announced tighter COVID-19 measures to contain the spread of the infection among locals, such as the suspension of in-person classes for primary 1-3 students.
The ATB had garnered much interest between Singaporeans and Hong Kongers alike, as tickets to and from the countries were sold out just a few hours after the start date of the ATB was announced. Ticket prices had also hiked, hitting a price of $1000 for economy class tickets.
SIA and Cathay Pacific customers who have bought tickets may reschedule their booking, exchange their tickets for airline credits or request for a full refund.
As the ATB agreements focus on allowing non-essential travel between countries without a mandatory quarantine period, non-ATB flights are still operational. Cathay Pacific will be converting ATB flights between 24 Nov and 5 Dec to non-ATB flights, retaining the same date and time as their original bookings, but maintaining “normal quarantine rules”, according to the airline.
In his Facebook post, Minister Ong gave comment on the situation, stating that “this is a sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs. But we will press on and look forward to when we can safely launch the ATB.”
Foreigners entering Singapore are now eligible for at least S$30,000 insurance coverage for COVID-19 related medical costs. This figure is to cover the medical costs at private hospitals. The plans are offered by three insurance companies – AIG Asia Pacific Insurance, HL Assurance and Chubb Insurance Singapore. AIG and HL have rolled out their insurance plans, while Chubb will begin their offers from 27 Nov. Premiums start at $5.35.
Qatar Airways has just launched Student Club, a program that offers special benefits and savings exclusive to students worldwide. Powered by Qatar Airways Privilege Club, the program intends to support students throughout their educational journey. Members of Student Club are entitled to privileges such as discounts for flights, complimentary Super Wi-Fi onboard, extra baggage allowances, the freedom to change the dates of their flight, and more. Upon graduation, members will be automatically enrolled to Qatar Airways Privilege Club and will receive a free tier upgrade. They may also receive 5,000 Qmiles upon referring a friend to Student Club.
Credits: IHG (Voco) Website
A new hotel is underway to be built near the new Jeddah airport in Saudi Arabia by the first quarter of 2022. Voco Jeddah North will feature 145 rooms and will be conveniently located near the upcoming Kingdom City, which is anticipated to be the new center of Jeddah. The best beaches in the northern corniche of the city will also be accessible from the hotel, such as the Alexandria beach, and the Obhur Corniche and Bay, near the Red Sea. Jeddah Seasons Square will also be easily accessible from the hotel.
Credits: Byway Website
A new British travel operator, Byway, has begun operations amidst the lockdown in the UK. The operator specialises in no-fly holidays, aiming to pave the way for a new norm in the travel industry. With many consumers becoming more self-aware about how their travel behaviors impact the environment, Byway believes there to be an upcoming market for slow travel. Their personalized packages include journeys by train, boat and bike, exploring places in the UK and France that are off the beaten track. Byway also aims to expand to other European countries once borders open up.
Credits: Julian Herzog, CC BY 4.0
South Africa and Botswana are relaxing their border restrictions. Visitors from the UK and Ireland are allowed entry into South Africa and are expected to present a hardcopy certificate of a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before departure.
From 1 Dec, Botswana will open up its doors to travellers from South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Travellers will be expected to produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of their departure. Botswana is one of the most revered safari destinations in Africa, known for its large elephant population – the largest in the world.