Indonesia plans 'one-way' travel bubble for Singapore tourists to visit Batam and Bintan - Tourism Indonesia


Friday, March 26, 2021

Indonesia plans 'one-way' travel bubble for Singapore tourists to visit Batam and Bintan


The Sanchaya.

Soh Yi Da misses his monthly trips to Batam, an Indonesian island that is a 45-minute ferry ride away from his home in Singapore. So when Indonesian officials hinted at the possibility of a one-way travel corridor there, he was thrilled.

“The draw is of course the ability to get out of Singapore and feel the fresh air in a foreign place,” said Soh, 32, who works in the financial industry.

Before the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a halt and shut international borders, he would travel to Batam at least once a month to play golf with his friends and feast on fresh seafood. 

“Heading back to Batam will be refreshing,” said Soh, who last visited the island in January last year.

Soh and other Singaporeans might be able to visit the white sandy beaches of Batam and neighbouring Bintan Island as soon as April 21 if plans by Indonesia to open a safe travel corridor for tourists from the city state pan out.

Unlike typical travel corridors, however, this bubble only goes one-way – Indonesians still would not be allowed entry into Singapore.

Indonesia’s tourism minister Sandiaga Uno said on Thursday (March 25) he had discussed the arrangement with Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is on a two-day visit to Indonesia.

Balakrishnan invited Sandiaga to try the ferry route from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Nongsa in Batam and Bintan’s Lagoi, he said. 

He said ultimately the decision to open the travel corridor would be taken by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and foreign minister Retno Marsudi, but the talks were progressing well. 

 “They are still finalising the arrangement, but the direction is there [to open a travel corridor with Singapore], because we understand that there is a great market and interest,” Sandiaga said during a news briefing. 

“My discussion [with Balakrishnan] was very open and positive. He invited me to come to Singapore, which I see as a very pleasant sign, so that we can take [the discussion of a travel corridor] to the next stage.” 

The Indonesia-Singapore travel arrangement is the latest in a series of regional measures aimed at reviving the pandemic-battered tourism sector now vaccination drives are under way in some destinations. 

Indonesia is discussing separate bubbles with China, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the Netherlands, India, Malaysia, and Japan (Asiaone)

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