Coronavirus: Singapore citizens dashing to apply for passports as borders reopen | South China Morning Post
Coronavirus: Singapore citizens dashing to apply for passports as borders reopen. The number of passport applications has spiked to more than 7,000 a day, peaking at 14,000 – that compares with about 2,000 a day before the pandemic
Published: 3:30pm, 14 May, 2022
The number of passport applications has spiked to more than 7,000 a day, peaking at 14,000, according to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, which described the surge as “overwhelming.” That compares with about 2,000 a day before the pandemic, the ICA said. The average wait for processing now is at least six weeks from the application time, it said.
Asia’s popular tourist destinations from Japan to Thailand are moving to reopen their borders, welcoming back tourists after the latest Covid-19 variant omicron proved to be mild compared to its deadly predecessors. Singapore, itself a well-known attraction, removed pre-departure testing requirements for fully-inoculated visitors from all countries last month.
Local media reported long, snaking queues at the ICA building where applicants waited for hours to collect their travel documents. “I have a backache now” from standing in line, researcher Ad Maulod was quoted by Channel News Asia as saying while he waited three hours to collect his passport for a trip to Malaysia. The ICA has deployed more resources to process the applications and expanded the queuing areas to cope with large crowds, it said in a statement published earlier this week. “We are doing our best to handle the high demand and our officers are working longer hours during this period,” the government agency said. For two years, more than five millions of Singapore’s residents were stuck on the island with the land area of some 730 square kilometres, or about a quarter the size of Rhode Island, the United States’ smallest state. Business travel, contrary to some expectations in the thick of the pandemic, is coming back. While bookings may not have reached pre-Covid levels, there’s mounting evidence of a rebound, the strength of which is taking some by surprise.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby said last month that corporate travel is recovering so rapidly, it “makes us feel really, really confident.” Keith Tan, CEO of the Singapore Tourism Board, said “rumours about the decline of business travel are greatly exaggerated,” while Virgin Australia head Jayne Hrdlicka said there’s a “push to reinvest in relationships.”Bloomberg spoke to three of the world’s top corporate travel managers – American Express Global Business Travel Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Crawley, Ben Wedlock, senior vice-president of global sales for Asia-Pacific at BCD Travel, and FCM Travel Solutions’ managing director for Asia, Bertrand Saillet. (...).”