With tourism establishments given the green light to re-open, the Indian state of Kerala has rolled out a "bio-bubble" involving "mostly inoculated service providers".
Touted as an efficient and meticulous process, the bio-bubble is meant to "ensure that travellers have a risk-free stay".
The new model forms part of a set of schemes initiated by Kerala Tourism Minister Shri Mohamed Riyas for an early revival of the travel and hospitality sector by turning all tourism spots into safe zones.
According to Kerala Tourism, the protective ring of the Bio-bubble will see that tourists landing in any airport in Kerala meet only vaccinated ground staff. From the airport they can ride to their chosen destinations in transportation provided by accredited tour operators, whose drivers are all vaccinated. Hotels, resorts or home stays tourists visit will also have vaccinated staff.
In the state, tourism establishments — hotels, resorts, home stays, houseboats and open spaces of tourist interest — re-opened on Monday (August 9). To enter these areas, tourists need to have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, or possess a negative RTPCR test certificate taken 72 hours before.
In a statement, Kerala Tourism said: "This programme will enable the vacationers to move freely within safe zones without any anxiety from the very moment they reach the state."
“Lockdown-weary people from all corners of the world will be treading to safe and healthy places when tourism opens up globally and nationally. Going by our natural assets and advanced social milieu, Kerala has immense scope to tap the in-coming rush to unpolluted and less crowded spaces. Creation of a safety shield like the bio-bubble is a vital component in keeping the state tourism sector ready,” Shri V R Krishna Teja IAS, Director of Tourism, Kerala, added.
The state had launched a campaign to vaccinate the entire population in tourism destinations last month, with Vythiri in upland Wayanad being declared as the first destination to achieve the status.
Major centres to be covered in the vaccination drive include Alappuzha, Munnar, Fort Kochi, Kovalam, Kumarakom, and Varkala, lying in the length and breadth of the state.
More than 43.4% of the state’s total population have received the first dose of vaccine and 18% have completed both doses.
On 11 August, 40,000 cases of breakthrough infection (where the patient contracted the virus after vaccination) were reportedly detected in Kerala.
When it comes to the number of cases, the state continues to top the charts in India. The country recorded 40,120 new Covid-19 infections in the 24 hours ending 8 am on 13 August, of which 21,445 were in Kerala.