South Korea could announce a travel bubble with Singapore and Taiwan from July to help the tourism sector start to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
South Korea.- The South Korean government is in talks with Singaporean and Taiwanese authorities about a potential travel bubble from July.
According to the South Korean Transport Ministry, the travel bubble will be open only to those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Local media reports that so far only 4.5 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated.
Initially, travellers will be required to show negative Covid-19 test results three days before departure and test again upon arrival at their destination. Tourists will also have to follow an itinerary rather than roaming freely.
Although discussions have only just begun, the travel bubble could include other territories such as Guam, Saipan and Thailand.
The news was well received by the tourism and gaming sectors as an average of just 9,722 tourists per month have visited South Korea since last April, a 99 per cent decline compared to the 1.33m visitors in January 2020.
South Korea’s foreigner-only casino operators have been deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of tourists.
In 2020, casinos on Jeju island saw sales decline by 63.6 per cent year-on-year 2020 to KRW69.30bn (US$61.5m). That compares to sales of KRW190.0bn (US$168.7m) in 2019, before the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Only four Jeju casinos out of a total of 16 foreigner-only venues remained operational through most of 2020: Paradise Co’s Paradise Casino Jeju Grand, Landing Casino at Jeju Shinhwa World, Casino Lotte Tour at Lotte Hotel Jeju and Gongzi Jeju.
Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble to be reviewed in July
Authorities in Singapore and Hong Kong will analyse the situation next month before announcing a new launch date for a proposed travel bubble.
A Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble was to begin on May 26 but was delayed after Singapore registered new cases of Covid-19.
However, in recent days the number of Covid-19 cases in Singapore has declined, while the situation in Hong Kong remains stable.
The Ministry of Transport said: “Both sides would review the situation in early July, before deciding on the target launch dates of the air travel bubble flights.”
Gan Kim Yong, trade and industry minister, added: “Once we have a very high vaccination rate, then it opens up a lot more possibilities and offers greater flexibility, even in international travelling.”