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Travel bubble proposed for Singapore and Bintan

Resort inflatables ready for action on Bintan Island, Indonesia.

Indonesia’s tourism minister, Sandiago Uno, has raised the possibility of a travel bubble between Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Bintan and Batam.

According to local media reports, Uno has approached Singapore’s foreign affairs minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, with the idea of opening a travel corridor, or bubble. Uno is believed to have been touring hotels on both islands to assess health protocols and readiness to open to international guests.

“I think it is not impossible to relax it (tourism), such as with Singapore,” Uno is reported to have told reporters. “I cannot over-promise anything... Hopefully it can be realised and at least Batam and Bintan can be reopened."

Balakrishnan, for his part, has indicated that the two countries could discuss the possibility of a bubble, including appropriate regulations and strict health protocol policies.

Bintan and Batam, part of the Riau Islands province of Indonesia, are located just across the Singapore Strait from the Lion City and are a popular weekend holiday destination for Singaporeans. The islands are normally served by frequent, fast ferry routes from Singapore and offer a multitude of five star resorts, golf courses and beaches. Coronavirus infections and deaths in this area of Indonesia have been low compared with the rest of the country.

Uno revealed that he is also promoting the Indonesian tourist hotspots of Bali, Batam and Bintan to be prioritised for coronavirus inoculation.

“Indonesia has kicked off vaccinations,” he said. “I have negotiated to grant Bali, Jakarta, Batam and Bintan a priority considering that Bali’s economy sees a recession due to a drop in tourism performance. (Tourism in) Batam and Bintan is also paralysed.”

Singapore has also started its vaccination programme and has maintained a low rate of community infections since the second half of 2020, employing lockdown and strict social distancing measures to keep cases under control. In December it readied to open the world's first air travel bubble with Hong Kong; however, a fourth wave of coronavirus infections in the Chinese territory pushed the bubble onto the back burner.


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