Image: Garuda in a bubble.
The proposed travel bubble is an agreement with nearby countries that allows for travel for non-essential journeys without quarantining upon arrival with countries that have had low or controlled cases of coronavirus.
“We are designing travel bubbles with four countries; China, South Korea, Japan and Australia,” Deputy of the Coordination at the Ministry for Tourism and Creative Economy, Odo RM Manuhutu, in a virtual press conference on Friday (12/6).
He said the idea came from discussions in a limited cabinet meeting on May 28, 2020, chaired by President Joko Widodo.
The opening of travel bubbles with the four countries is related to investment in Indonesia. Odo said, China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia were chosen to support the sustainability of the four countries’ investments in Indonesia.
“The initial target is indeed for business people, but is not closed to tourists. After business people have started to come, naturally that will also encourage tourists to visit,” said Odo.
According to Odo, the travel bubble with these four countries was a prototype before Indonesia actually opened tourism for foreign tourists.
He said the government was currently discussing criteria regarding the travel bubbles, or corridors as some people are calling them now. “After we have formalized the criteria, it will be discussed with several countries for the negotiation process,” Odo told Kompas.com.
If an agreement is then made, a travel bubble can be opened. Odo admitted that there had been requests from other countries for Indonesia to reopen certain channels.
However, said Odo, the opening phase of the travel bubble needs to be done carefully because there are many issues that need attention. These include health, safety and technical readiness. Z
“The hope is that by opening a travel bubble, we will learn the pluses and minuses, and what are the shortcomings. From this experience, it can be applied to travel bubbles with other places,” said Odo.
The minister of tourism believes that the application of travel bubbles can encourage direct flights to Indonesia, thus avoiding transits. “If there is a direct flight from say, Seoul to Jakarta, Seoul to Bali, or Osaka to Bali. This would avoid having transits where transmissions may occur,” said Odo.
Tourism bubbles have been touted all over the world in the past few weeks but with few results so far. Australia and New Zealand have a proposed travel bubble but still haven’t agreed on when it will happen. Meanwhile, Indonesia is on a banned list of foreign nationals allowed into Japan at least until the end of this month.
There are challenges ahead but facilitating business travel between these countries could be a positive start.