11 Vaccinated Travel Lane agreements now in place between Singapore and other nations
Find out how our clients are utilising VTLs to maximise their business opportunities
Singapore has expanded its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) agreements to a total of 11 countries following the successful implementation of the Singapore-Germany and Singapore-Brunei VTLs in early September.
Fully-vaccinated travellers can now travel freely to the following VTL destinations including: Germany, Brunei, France, Denmark, Italy, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Spain, USA, Canada, South Korea (effective from November 15).
Travellers using selected VTL flights to and from these destinations will not need quarantine in Singapore nor in any of the above countries upon arrival. Prior to Singapore’s announcement of the additional VTLs on October 9, most of the countries on the list had already unilaterally re-opened to vaccinated travellers from Singapore earlier this year.
Time for businesses and travellers to connect in person
The past 18 months have been challenging for businesses. Most of us had to embrace remote working and virtual meeting platforms like Zoom and Teams. They kept us connected in a very disconnected world in the grips of a pandemic.
Virtual connectivity is not about to disappear. Even as restrictions ease, we expect companies will have a closer look at the need for fly-in, fly-out business trips. After all, environmental concerns are real.
In the future: a healthy balance will be needed.
After all, the endless Zoom galleries have really started to lose their sparkle. Employees miss the spontaneity of ‘real life’ meetings; the creative sparring and brainstorming in the boardroom; and the off-the-cuff remarks that can take a meeting or idea in a completely different direction. And if you want to get a competitive advantage or sign a multi-million-dollar deal, you need to shake (or at least bump elbows) on it.
An eye-opening example? Employment Pass holders in Singapore dropped by 15% between December 2020 and June 2021. The main reason is that senior executives relocated back from Singapore to their home countries. It created a disconnect. It was difficult to understand and address concerns through virtual channels. By attending meetings in person, executives from different geographic regions can paint a much better picture of the problems and concerns in the area.
Limited safety concerns.
Maximum business opportunities.
Getting back to travel can feel a little bit daunting so rebuilding confidence and putting your mind at ease is our top priority. Germany was selected as one of Singapore’s first VTLs because the country ticks all the safety boxes:
- 65% of the German population is vaccinated
- Germany has a lower per 100 000 infection rate than Singapore
- It is one of the safest places regarding COVID infections globally
Combine the safety statistics with the fact that Germany is Europe’s largest economy, and you’ll understand why it’s the ideal destination for Singapore’s first VTL. The opportunities for business in this Schengen-free travel zone are limitless.
The success of this VTL in September has assured Singapore and its travellers that the country can re-open and travel can resume safely with proper processes in place. The result is the addition of nine other VTLs which is expected to bring on greater trade and restart business opportunities for MNCs, national companies and SMEs as we head into the last quarter of 2021.
Leaders gather from different regions for strategic meetings
Additionally, VTLs haven’t just been useful for companies with business to be done in Germany, many companies are taking the opportunity for senior leadership teams to gather for strategic meetings. One of FCM’s clients utilised the VTL to organise a meeting of senior leaders across the business from Europe (with free travel allowed within the region).
While this trip was organised shortly after the travel corridor was announced, the process was easy and straightforward. FCM’s booking team and the client’s preferred airlines provided comprehensive information to the travellers through digital webinars to prepare them for the trip. The only challenge and difference for this trip as compared to trips organised pre-pandemic was the application of vaccinated travel passes and PCR tests prior to departure from Germany and upon their return.
FCM’s own senior management team also did the same. For the first time since February 2020, heads of three major regions – Asia, The Americas, EMEA used the VTL as an opportunity to have their first face-to-face meeting to discuss strategic topics that include:
- The needs of FCM’s multi-national clients across regions as travel recovers
- Our global technology roadmap
- Entry into new markets
- Travel recovery patterns and behaviour by region
The world is finally re-opening
The VTLs to Germany and Brunei were small steps that snowballed into a huge leap in terms of business opportunities for Singapore.
In the words of one of our clients:
Our senior leadership team previously met 3 or 4 times a year. However, we haven’t been able to since January 2020. While video conferencing has been effective at allowing us to keep our businesses and people connected, regular in-person meetings are still very much important for large strategic decisions that will affect the growth and future of our business.