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A Singapore luxury hotel group is offering guests almost $200,000 in free medical coverage if they test positive for COVID-19 during their stay

INSIDER logo INSIDER 1/5/2021 kwarren@businessinsider.com (Katie Warren)
a close up of a flower garden: The lobby at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts © Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts The lobby at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Luxury hotel brand Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is offering a new coronavirus-era perk at its hotels in Singapore: up to S$250,000 - or about $190,000 - in free medical coverage for guests who test positive for COVID-19 during their stay at one of its four hotels in the island nation.

"Having elevated our hotels' already stringent and rigorous safety and hygiene standards, we are now going the extra mile by providing COVID-19 medical coverage to our Singapore-bound guests, further instilling their travel confidence," Chan Kong Leong, regional CEO for the Shangri-La Group in Southeast Asia & Australasia, said in a press release.

The coverage is available only to a select group of international travelers coming to Singapore from one of 11 countries that have special travel arrangements with the city-state.

Through its Reciprocal Green Lane, Singapore currently allows business and diplomatic travelers from Brunei, mainland China, Germany,  Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and South Korea to bypass the city-state's mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival. And with its Air Travel Pass program, Singapore permits leisure travelers coming from Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand,  Taiwan, and Vietnam to skip the quarantine. 

an empty park bench next to a pool of water: The swimming pool at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts © Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts The swimming pool at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Travelers from these countries must still test negative for COVID-19 before departure and again upon arrival, quarantine for 1-2 days while awaiting their second test result, and use Singapore's contact tracing app while in the country.

In many of the 11 countries, however, including Australia and South Korea, residents must still quarantine for 14 days when they return home. 

Per the press release, Shangri-La's complimentary medical coverage includes expenses for "medically necessary and reasonable costs" if a guest tests positive for COVID-19 during their stay at one of the brand's four Singapore hotels: the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore; Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa; JEN Singapore Orchardgateway; and JEN Singapore Tanglin.

The coverage, which is underwritten by AIG Insurance, is available for stays between January 1 and June 20, 2021. To be eligible, guests must book their stays directly through Shangri-La's website, mobile app, or reservations hotline. Once they do so, they're automatically covered for the duration of their stay.

Shangri-La, which has hotels and resorts in more than 20 countries including China, the UK, and Australia, chose Singapore to launch the program because of the city-state's gradual relaxing of travel restrictions and because the government "has highlighted COVID-19 insurance coverage as a key enabler to rebuilding traveler confidence," Chan, the group's regional CEO, said in the press release.

Singapore seeks to revive tourism

Singapore has been looking for ways to bring back tourism as the affluent island city-state has largely kept its COVID-19 outbreak under control.

In December, Singapore became the first Asian country to receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. At the end of the year, it entered Phase three of its reopening, which allows social gatherings of up to eight people and gradually increased capacity at places like shopping malls and religious organizations. At the time of this story's publication, the city-state had only 195 active COVID-19 cases

a person with a bicycle in a city: A cyclist takes a photo in front of the Merlion statue in Singapore on January 4, 2021. ROSLAN RAHMAN/Afp/AFP via Getty Images © ROSLAN RAHMAN/Afp/AFP via Getty Images A cyclist takes a photo in front of the Merlion statue in Singapore on January 4, 2021. ROSLAN RAHMAN/Afp/AFP via Getty Images

Singapore is eager to launch leisure travel bubbles with other countries to allow quarantine-free travel between the city-state and others in the region who have the virus similarly under control. Such a travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong was set to launch in November, but was delayed after Hong Kong reported a new spike in COVID-19 cases.

"We are really controlling the virus quite well for now... hopefully, I think, sometime next year, different partners will be willing to open up travel bubbles," Singapore's transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, said last month. "We can't close forever. Everybody knows that."

Leisure travelers from Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Vietnam do not have to quarantine for 14 days in Singapore, but so far none of these countries have reciprocated the offer, which has put somewhat of a damper on the city-state's efforts. 

Travel experts told Channel News Asia in November that Singapore could be eyeing countries like Japan and South Korea as potential travel bubble partners because Singapore already has pre-existing arrangements with them.

Despite Singapore's strict containment measures, the city-state's luxury hotels have not been entirely safe from COVID-19 outbreaks. In December, 13 imported cases were linked to people who served their quarantine at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore hotel, prompting a two-week closure and a Ministry of Health investigation into the hotel. The hotel has since been cleared for reopening.

A spokesperson for the Singapore Tourism Board did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment for this story.

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