Singapore lifts border restrictions with Taiwan

By Mia Chapman Updated
Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble on ice as COVID-19 cases rise

Singapore has lifted border restrictions for travellers from Taiwan, paving the way for more visitors to Singapore’s casinos.

Calvin Ayre reports that Taiwan has no new COVID-19 infections reported in the past 28 days, making it the perfect travel partner, Singapore’s Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore agreed with the assessment, declaring that Taiwan had “a comprehensive public health surveillance system and has displayed successful control over the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

The CAAS has noted that anyone coming from Taiwan must have spent the previous 14 days there and may only arrive “on direct flights without transit.”

They must also take a COVID-19 PCR test, download the “TraceTogether” app and apply for an “Air Travel Pass”.

Seeing as this was a unilateral decision in Singapore’s end, they warn that travellers should “check the entry requirements imposed by Taiwan and take the necessary precautionary measures.”

Taiwan recently reduced their own restrictions for Singapore, reducing quarantine periods for “essential business travellers” to just five days.

Assuming Singapore keeps its own COVID-19 infection rate down, one would hope the restrictions can be reduced further.

Singapore has also lifted border restrictions for Australia, Brunei, Mainland China, New Zealand and Vietnam.

Singapore has two casino resorts, the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa.

The former was the only positive in Las Vegas Sands portfolio for the third quarter, bringing in $70 million but falling 84 per cent year on year.

Resorts World also realised a profit of $40.4 million, but fell 66 per cent compared to 2019.

Both resorts have tried to shift to locals to keep profits coming in but have seen declining numbers overall due to safety precautions and general lack of interest, making international visitors a priority.

Impact of Singapore’s annual casino levy revealed

It has been more than a year since Singapore increased the cost of a daily or yearly casino entry pass, with the financial impact and patronage figures recently released.

GGR Asia reported in November that when the fees increased by 50 per cent from April 4, 2019, local adults visiting casinos dropped 1.3 per cent, according to Tan Tee How, chairman of the city-state’s Casino Regulatory Authority.

The levy increase, which made an annual pass cost US$2195, had been done to “ensure that Singaporeans continue to be protected against the potential harms of casino gambling,” Mr Tan noted in his annual report.

He indicated that “one year after the increase” casino visits made by Singapore citizens and permanent residents dropped to 2.7 per cent of the local population, from four per cent in the 2018 financial year.

Mr Tan added: “Since casinos opened in 2010, the probable problem- and pathological-gambling rate has decreased from 2.6 per cent to 0.9 per cent in 2017.

“This suggests that the local safeguards have been effective,” he said.

Separately, the CRA provided some figures on casino visits by locals for the years 2017 to 2018, in response to an enquiry from Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.

According to the report, the authority told it that in financial year 2017, “approximately” 130,000 locals visited casinos.

In 2018, that figure was 127,000 and the year of the levy increase, 2019, boasted a figure of 88,000.

This year, Singapore’s two casino resorts – Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa were closed from April 7 as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The casinos reopened on July 1.

Upon reopening, the gaming facilities were available only to certain participants in membership schemes, or to annual levy pass holders, at a time when most foreigners were not being permitted to enter Singapore.

During the period covered by the 2019-20 CRA report, Marina Bay Sands’ promoter received fines totalling almost A$150,000 for four breaches of the city’s Casino Control Act.

Resorts World Sentosa’s promoter also received a fine of about A$20,000 for a breach of the act.

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