First leisure group tour under travel lane to Germany set for lift-off
Six-member group will have to adhere to safe-distancing, wear masks at all times
The weekend after news of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) to Germany broke on Aug 19, Mr Reuben Lim headed to tour agencies to check out travel packages.
News of the VTL was a huge relief to the avid traveller, who used to take monthly business trips to various countries in the Asia-Pacific, on top of an annual holiday with his family.
Mr Lim, who works in the information technology industry, will be part of the first leisure group tour to Germany leaving Singapore tomorrow at 12.45am, under the VTL.
It has been about 11/2 years since the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed air travel, especially for leisure and organised tour groups.
The 56-year-old, who paid about $9,600 in total and will be travelling with his daughter, 24, said: "I wanted to get back to living life normally and get out of Singapore for a change of scenery.
"I was feeling fatigued from all the Zoom meetings and experiencing cabin fever. I am quite excited about this trip and privileged that I can travel during this period."
Organised by EU Holidays, the 12-day trip will start in Munich and cover other cities such as Stuttgart and Frankfurt. The six people in the group are aged between their mid-20s and late 60s.
Mr Wong Yew Hoong, director of EU Holidays, said precautions will be in place, including using a 40-seater bus so safe distancing can be observed, and having antigen rapid test (ART) kits on board in case a tour group member feels unwell. Tour group members have to don masks at all times, and meals will be served individually.
The VTL allows fully inoculated travellers to fly to Germany and return without quarantine. They will be subject to several Covid-19 tests - one before departure, one upon returning to Singapore, and the rest on days three and seven after their return - with a short period of isolation while waiting for the result of the test taken upon arrival in Singapore.
Such requirements have prompted some people, including Mr Jeff Sim, 32, to opt for a travel package. While most of his previous trips- were free and easy, Mr Sim, a freelancer, said he opted for the EU tour for peace of mind.
"I feel safer because if anything happens, for example, if I test positive and need to be quarantined in Germany, there would be someone to help me with the arrangements instead of having to figure it out by myself," he said, adding that he will take ART kits along and dine in open-air areas if possible.
Other tour agencies told The Straits Times they are lining up similar packages.
Chan Brothers Travel is set to have its first group depart on Oct 11 to Germany. Dynasty Travel is planning for departures next month and in November and December. Others, such as SA Tours and ASA Holidays, are gauging the demand from customers.
A spokesman for ASA said it is "receiving an influx of inquiries to depart during the year end and we will look towards building an ideal itinerary to ensure their safety".
More than half the German population have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.