Friday 10/23/20
CORONAVIRUS

Singapore allows 'cruises to nowhere' as part of tourism revival

Only half the usual passenger numbers will be permitted to travel.
FILED - The cruise liner "Europa" passes the pier in Wismar-Wendorf in the early morning on its way to the harbour. In its latest effort to put some wind in the sails of a tourism sector left high and dry by the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore will from next month permit cruise ships to sail, for the first time since March. Photo: Jens Büttner/dpa.
The cruise liner 'Europa' passes the pier in Wismar-Wendorf (Germany) in the early morning on its way to the harbour. Photo: Jens Büttner/dpa/File photo.

First came the flights to nowhere in countries like Australia, Japan and Taiwan. Now is the turn of cruise ships, looking for ways to limit the damage that the coronavirus pandemic is causing to their business results.

In its latest effort to put some wind in the sails of a tourism sector left high and dry by the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore will from next month permit cruise ships to sail, for the first time since March.

It will not exactly be full steam ahead, however, with the Singapore Tourism Board saying on Thursday that cruises will be round trips with no port calls allowed.

When the first ship sails on 6 November, the operator will have to apply "stringent hygiene and safety measures" based on what the tourism board calls "CruiseSafe Certification." Only half the usual passenger numbers will be permitted to travel.

There were several coronavirus outbreaks on cruise ships in the early stages of the pandemic, with hundreds of passengers infected onboard the Diamond Princess of Japan.

Temporary cruise ban

Most countries imposed a temporary cruise ban, though Singapore allowed passengers to disembark from an Italian ship in March after rebuffs by Thailand and Malaysia before the country sealed its borders as international travel came to a standstill.

Asian countries have largely kept frontiers closed since March, though Singapore has reopened to tourists from Australia, Brunei, New Zealand and Vietnam.

The wealthy city-state, which functions as an anchor for foreign investment in South-East Asia, has restarted business travel with China, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea

While several airlines, such as Australia's Qantas and Japan's ANA, have promoted so-called "flights to nowhere," Singapore's national carrier instead announced in September it would deploy grounded aircraft as restaurants and offer in-flight menus on food delivery services.

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