Indonesian tourists return to Singapore with relaxed Covid-19 rules after two years

JAKARTA – Mr. Samuel Affan feels happy and excited to be spending, for the first time in two years, a three-week vacation in Singapore and spending time with his family and friends.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Jakarta resident used to visit the Republic – his favorite vacation destination – at least twice a year with his family, strolling down Orchard Road, dining in Chinatown and Newton and doing shopping in Bugis Street.

“It’s more convenient now because there’s no more quarantine,” the 35-year-old told the Straits Times before boarding a Singapore Airlines flight from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten , Friday, April 8.

In June last year, Mr Samuel came to Singapore to accompany his uncle, who was then 69 and had to undergo surgery and a series of cancer treatments in a hospital.

Although they had to spend 14 days in quarantine upon arrival in Singapore and then another five days for a similar arrangement upon their return to Indonesia, he was grateful the procedures had been successful.

“This time, I have no burden. I want to have fun. I will enjoy food, shopping and meeting my loved ones,” the marketing manager said, adding that he also wanted to try new attractions.

Mr. Onky Martha and his wife, Ms. Anastasia Viananda, told ST that after two years of not visiting Singapore, they are happy to come back and spend the weekend visiting their favorite destinations, such as Bugis Street, Marina Bay and Orchard Road, and enjoy some of the local food, such as nasi lemak, laksa and fishball noodles.

“It’s a spontaneous trip. We just found cheap (return) tickets yesterday and booked them straight away,” said Mr Onky, owner of a real estate company, as he made line up at a Scoot check-in counter at the airport.

Acknowledging they didn’t have any specific tourist attractions in mind for their trip to Singapore, the 32-year-old said: “When we travel, we’re looking to enjoy the atmosphere and dine. It’s everything.”

Asked how the eased restrictions, in particular the quarantine-free arrangement, would affect their travel, Ms Anastasia said: “We are happy. It’s much easier now.”

Mr Samuel, Mr Onky and Ms Anastasia are again among Indonesians flocking to Singapore after the Republic allowed all vaccinated travelers and children aged 12 and under to enter without quarantine from April 1. They only need to do a rapid antigen test before departure.

As many as 33,000 Indonesians visited Singapore in 2021, according to the Singapore Tourism Board.

In terms of the number of vaccine pass (VTP) applications, Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, was among the top five countries. Singapore issued over 100,000 VTPs between September and December last year.

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