When Singapore-based travel blogger Aaron Wong booked a trip to Hong Kong for this month, part of him was prepared to be disappointed. He’d been burned before.
The flight was part of a highly anticipated travel bubble between the two cities due to launch on May 26. While the rest of the world is working out how to relax travel restrictions—the European Union moved this week to allow vaccinated tourists—the two Asian financial centers have tried for months to open up quarantine-free travel. In November, a sudden spike of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong killed the first stab at the initiative one day before it was set to start. On Monday, a surge in Singapore canceled the second, dashing hopes yet again.
“Next time they should just announce the launch 24 hours before, so Covid won’t know,” Mr. Wong, 33, said.
Each time, authorities in the two cities carefully drafted detailed criteria and unveiled new safety protocols to open their borders to each other. Travel-starved residents rushed to snap up limited seats on the two planned flights a day, one in each direction in the plan’s initial phase. Some penciled in multiple lunches each afternoon to cram in reunions with friends.
The cities first revealed plans for a bubble last October. When it burst the following month, an image depicting balloon debris from a celebratory arch for passengers was shared widely among Hong Kong residents, a symbol of the deflation felt by travelers.