Indonesia toys with idea of Australian travel bubble

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While dreams of a trans-Tasman travel bubble have been put on the back burner for now, other neighbours have propositions of their own.

The Jakarta Post is keeping an eye on Indonesia’s rumoured plans to invite China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia into a travel bubble. Indonesia’s deputy coordinating minister for investment and tourism, Odo Manuhutu, told the press: “The four countries were chosen because many tourists and foreign investors in Indonesia come from those countries.”

He said that the plan would prioritise ‘health protocols’ and may inspire other nations to follow similar steps. However, this travel corridor would likely allow for the movement of businesspeople rather than tourists for some time.

Australian ambassador to Indonesia Gary Quinlan said: “I think, certainly, my own government realises that when we move to lift travel restrictions … we have with Indonesia, business travellers who need to do business to get our economies working should be a priority.”

The ambassador went on to suggest that once Australia’s travel restrictions ease, student travellers would likely be the next allowed to move between the countries, Travel Weekly reported.

And deputy minister Odo told The Jakarta Post: “Hopefully, tourists will gradually follow and visit [Indonesia] after the investors.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah recently stated that officials are currently ironing out the principles required for Indonesia to create such a travel bubble.

However, as restrictions increase in Victoria, and Indonesia continues to battle coronavirus, when exactly this travel corridor could open remains unclear. Indonesia has an average of 1000 new cases daily, and a total of 49,009 confirmed cases of COVID-19. And while some parts of Australia have managed to cap the number of cases, other parts are still rising in case number.

Despite the tempting proposition, some leaders are more hesitant than others, prioritising a health perspective over an economic one. Bali governor Wayan Koster is firm in his belief that the island will remain closed. Bali has had only 741 confirmed cases and five deaths from coronavirus. He is eager to follow in the footsteps of Singapore. “Singapore in December did not accept other citizens and its citizens were prohibited from leaving. So, I think almost all countries should follow this protocol,” Governor Koster said.

However, despite all the talk, Indonesia will not be opening its borders until coronavirus has been “well taken care of”, according to the Visit Indonesia Tourism Office. The high number of cases suggests we may be a long way off both governments opening their borders for international travel.

What do you think of a travel bubble between Indonesia and Australia? When would you next consider international travel?

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Written by Liv Gardiner


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