SINGAPORE – According to one of the region's largest tour operators, Klook, the world will be watching closely to see if the quarantine-free travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong will succeed.
"All eyes are on that bubble to make sure it's peeled off," said Eric Gnock Fah, co-founder and chief operating officer of travel booking platform Klook, told CNBC on Wednesday ahead of the highly anticipated start of this weekend.
If successful, he is optimistic that there will be more such travel bubbles in the region.
Specially designated "Air Travel Bubble" flights between Hong Kong and Singapore are slated to begin Nov. 22 after further details were released last week that travelers will switch quarantines for testing.
As this bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore becomes somewhat more stable, we should expect more travel bubbles to open on this front.
Eric Gnock Fah
Co-Founder and COO, Klook
Following the announcement, Gnock Fah said tourism authorities across the region have been keen to make plans for additional travel deals should those be hit.
"Indeed, when this news broke, many other tourism associations in Asia came to us very actively to discuss the plans they had implemented," said Gnock Fah.
"As this bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore becomes a little more stable, we should expect more travel bubbles to open on that front. We are pretty optimistic on that front," he added.
Travel searches are increasing
Klook, which manages on-site bookings such as hotels and experiences, saw searches for each destination increase more than eight times the day it was announced.
Travelers from Singapore turned out to be particularly restless as the travel search from the tiny city-state was 8-10 times higher than Hong Kong's 3-5 times.
The Singapore Airlines crew members will arrive at the A380 @Changi restaurant on board a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020.
ROSLAN RAHMAN | AFP | Getty Images
Travelers on both sides were equally interested in offsetting increased airfare and test costs with longer stays, Gnock Fah said, pointing out that this was a departure from pre-Covid preferences for long weekend stays. In-destination operators like hotels want to capture this trend with sustained discounts, he added.
The travel and tourism industry received another blessing last week as promising vaccine announcements from Pfizer and Moderna signaled optimism for a resumption of international travel in 2021.
"Tour operators, the tourism boards are very busy making sure we capture this pent-up demand when it comes to it," said Gnock Fah.