Destinations

Indonesia eyes travel bubble with Australia, Japan, South Korea, and China

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Indonesia is aiming to create a business and travel ‘bubble’ with four other countries, including Australia.

The Jakarta Post has reported that Indonesia is paying close attention to the travel ‘bubble’ trend, which in recent days and weeks has seen the likes of Fiji, Singapore and Thailand propose their own – while the trans-Tasman travel deal between Australia and New Zealand continues to simmer.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah told the outlet that officials are currently ironing out the “principles” required for Indonesia to implement a travel corridor.

While Indonesia’s deputy coordinating minister for investment and tourism, Odo Manuhutu, told the press that the nation was specifically aiming to lure the nation’s key tourism markets of China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia.

“The four countries were chosen because many tourists and foreign investors in Indonesia come from those countries,” Odo said.

Despite the plan, which he said would prioritise “health protocols” and could see other nations later “follow suit”, businesspeople would probably be the first and only ones to travel to and from those countries in the near future.

“Hopefully, tourists will gradually follow and visit [Indonesia] after the investors,” he said, as reported by The Jakarta Post. 

Australian ambassador to Indonesia Gary Quinlan agreed business travellers would be the first to travel to Indonesia, adding that student travellers would likely be next – once Australia’s travel restrictions ease.

“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,” Quinlan said, as reported by The Jakarta Post.

The timing of the announcement, which was made late last week, comes at an interesting time for Indonesia, which is battling a coronavirus curve that has shown no signs of reducing.

According to The Jakarta Post, the country had recorded around 1,000 new daily cases on average in the week leading up to the announcement, with 49,009 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date, data from Johns Hopkins University shows.

This differs significantly from those countries that have proposed their own partnerships – like Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji – which have more or less contained the coronavirus and are in a position to allow free movement within their respective travel bubbles.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Bali governor Wayan Koster has taken a hardline approach on keeping the island closed to tourism.

He told a meeting last week that Bali, which reportedly has powers that supersede the central government, will follow Singapore in its response to reopening.

“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,” Koster said, as reported by The Daily Telegraph.

While Indonesia more broadly has been particularly affected by the coronavirus outbreak, Bali has emerged with 741 cases, of which five people have died.

“We will not be provoked by pokes so we quickly open tourism. I am not in a position to follow the complaints from a number of tourism actors who want to open too quickly,” Koster said.

“This must be done slowly.”

According to the Visit Indonesia Tourism Office, Indonesia will only open when the coronavirus has been “well taken care of” and the country has gained trust from international communities.

“There is a lot of speculation about a travel bubble between Australia and Indonesia, reflecting the hope both sides have for travel,” Visit Indonesia Tourism Office’s country manager, Miriam Tulevski, told Travel Weekly. 

“Relaxing border restrictions is a mutual decision by both governments.

“The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy is currently focusing on managing the domestic market while maintaining contact with international stakeholders.”


Featured image: iStock/Oleh_Slobodeniuk

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