Your international travel outlook update – June 2021


The latest news has been mixed when it comes to international travel prospects. Each positive development, such as the resumption of direct flights between the UK and Hong Kong on 5 May, is seemingly balanced with a less than positive announcement.

With the global situation changing regularly, you’re probably finding it hard to keep track of developments. We therefore thought that you might find this “end of month” travel update useful. There are also three tips for you, once travel resumes.

The Singapore bubble bursts

Despite much anticipation, the “travel bubble” arrangement between Hong Kong and Singapore was once again shelved shortly before its intended launch date on 26 May.

The decision was based on the resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Singapore. Both governments have been highly committed to realising the travel bubble since November 2020, and it has already been delayed once by the resurgence of cases in Hong Kong. A new announcement will be made no later than 13 June, signalling optimism from the official level.

Under the proposed travel bubble arrangement, travellers will no longer need to be quarantined after being tested upon arrival. Vaccinated travellers from Singapore will need to test negative 72 hours before departure. Hong Kong travellers wishing to participate must be fully vaccinated before departing and download Singapore’s “TraceTogether” app when arriving in Singapore.

Both governments remain vigilant about the situation while trying to implement this scheme. Even once launched, either side can suspend the bubble for 14 days if there are more than five cases with unknown sources in a day in either city.

Besides Singapore, the Hong Kong government is also in negotiations with other popular destinations in the Asia Pacific for similar arrangements, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The results will depend on the pandemic situation in these destinations.

Other travel information

Meanwhile, travel bubble arrangements are already underway in some other parts of the world. Australia and New Zealand have launched the “trans-Tasman bubble” as both countries are gradually going back to normal. Passengers can travel across the borders without the need to quarantine. Yet, a brief 48-hour pause of this bubble on 10 May serves as a reminder that any arrangement can change abruptly.

On the other side of the globe, the European Union is also reopening its borders to travellers fully vaccinated with EU-approved vaccines. The EU may also gradually lift travel restrictions on travellers from Hong Kong if China agrees to roll out similar arrangements for the bloc’s member states.

Meanwhile, the UK is in negotiations with Ireland on a “travel bubble” arrangement, and direct flights between Hong Kong and the UK have resumed after being suspended over case surges.

The outlook for Hong Kong residents

When you will be able to resume travel from Hong Kong generally depends on two things:

  1. Like all other countries and territories, international travel is highly dependent on the Covid-19 situation worldwide. The earlier the pandemic situation is under control, the sooner countries can open their borders in a controlled fashion.
  2. As part of Hong Kong’s government policies, residents travelling abroad must be vaccinated before their departure. This means the resumption of international travelling is directly related to the city’s vaccination rate. With Hong Kong’s vaccination rate gradually increasing and the number of cases remaining minimal, there is still hope that travel could resume sometime in the future.

Three travel tips

It may be a bit early to pack your bags, but it is time to start researching and understanding how you should get ready once international travel resumes. Here are three tips for you to consider.

  1. Flight availability

Both supply and demand for air tickets is low now, but you may find it difficult to buy one when demand suddenly surges.

Remember to check the availability of flights, especially after any major announcements that may create a huge travel demand.

  1. Travel restrictions

Your travel destination may have different restrictions or public health arrangements, so spend some time researching these issues. Stay alert and exercise the usual precautions.

  1. Planning and purpose

Spend some time thinking about what you want to do. If there is anything you want to do or visit, put it on your list. If you’re planning to move for the long term, it’s best to consider the country’s economic outlook and job market, as well as tax regulations and culture.

At Charlton House, we specialise in international mobility to the UK. Our expertise covers the needs of expatriates and UK-bound Hong Kong residents in areas such as tax, asset management and relocation advisory. We are also part of the GOHK2UK alliance, with partners in the legal, education, and lifestyle fields, so we can ensure a smooth relocation for you.

Get in touch

Should you have any questions, reach out to our advisers anytime.

Please contact us by email or, if you prefer to speak to us, you can reach us in the UK on +44 (0) 208 0044900 or in Hong Kong on +852 39039004.

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